EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After playing in just two games since the Giants' late November bye, Kadarius Toney's season officially ended when the team announced he will not participate in the finale Sunday against the Washington Football Team in MetLife Stadium.
The team's 2021 first-round draft choice has a shoulder injury. Since his arrival, he has also been sidelined at different times due to hamstring, ankle, thumb, quad, and oblique injuries, plus two stints on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
"He's been dealing with a lot," fellow wideout Kenny Golladay said. "I was a third-rounder, he was a first-rounder, so he already had high expectations. I would just say stay the course. You're going to have an offseason this year – last year he didn't really have an offseason. You're going from training for the Combine straight into rookie minicamp and that whole thing. Just focus on trying to learn his body more and just stay the course."
Toney played in 10 games in his debut season. He is currently second on the team in both catches (39) and receiving yards (420), though running backs Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker each have 38 receptions and tight end Evan Engram has 404 yards. Toney's best game was in Dallas on Oct. 10, when he set a franchise rookie record with 189 receiving yards while catching a season-high 10 passes. But in five appearances since then, he totaled just 19 receptions for 139 yards.
"The important thing for these rookies going from year one to year two is really make a physical jump and their bodies have to continue to change and adapt to the demands of the league," coach Joe Judge said. "From year two to year three, the important jump is really production-based."
Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert was asked yesterday what Toney must do to be healthier and more productive in his second season.
"I think as a rookie sometimes these guys don't know, they really don't know how long the season is," Tolbert said yesterday. "Most guys in college at the end of the season was like half the season in the NFL. In college when they have 11 to 12 games, for us that's probably our eighth game or ninth game, something like that, counting the preseason."
"I think for the long haul, it's knowing what to do and take care of your body because, obviously, no one knows your body more than you. He has to take care of his body a little more, learn from other guys, what kind of routine they have, and pray and stay healthy. It's a tough business, it's a physical business and it's a collision on every snap. So, you have to do the best you can to be able to maintain your body, whether it's nutrition, whether it's being with the trainers, whether it's massages, whatever. Just do whatever you can to make sure your body is in the best possible condition to go out there and play."
Three of the Giants' six 2021 draft choices will end the season on injured reserve, and Toney could join them tomorrow. Cornerback Rodarius Williams was placed there on Oct. 14, four days after tearing his ACL in Dallas. Running back Gary Brightwell (neck) went on I.R. on Dec. 30, and linebacker Elerson Smith joined him this week, also with a neck injury. Smith spent the season's first eight games on injured reserve with a hamstring injury he suffered early in training camp.
"He obviously missed a lot of time," coach Joe Judge said of Smith. "I saw a lot of improvement along the way. You can't make up for the lost snaps right away, but over time he's got to keep developing. Obviously, he wouldn't be able to play this week, that's why he went on IR, to clear available spaces if we need them for different reasons. As far as a long-term concern, from everything we've been told by the medical team and the trainers, this would not be a long-term concern at all, but it would limit him both this week and probably next week if we were playing as well at least.
The two draft choices who will play on Sunday are linebacker Azeez Ojulari and cornerback Aaron Robinson.
Ojulari, the Giants' second-round choice, is the only 2021 draft choice to play in every game. He has set a franchise rookie record with a team-high 8.0 sacks as part of his 46 tackles (28 solo).
Robinson missed the first seven games of the season after undergoing core muscle surgery. He missed a December game against Dallas while on the COVID reserve list. Robinson has started two games and has 25 tackles (16 solo) and three passes defensed.
"With rookies, obviously every snap you get is invaluable," Judge said. "When time is eliminated due to injuries, that's definitely a challenge. The reality is, whether it was KT (Toney), A-Rob (Robinson), or Elerson Smith, these are three guys that lost a significant amount of time through training camp and different points this year. I've seen improvement by all three of these guys throughout the year. Actually, I just talked to Elerson a little while ago and was telling him he had missed a lot of ball through opting out of his senior year, through not having a true training camp, through being on (I.R.) to start the season, but the important thing was we saw improvement every game going forward, and there are things he has to work on. The invaluable thing he can take is the experience, but you have to understand there are a lot of reps these guys have missed.
"I think A-Rob's another guy who has improved a lot throughout this year. He's got a great skill set and demeanor. He's a long way from where he's going to be as a player. He's going to be a good player in this league and that's the same with KT. There are a lot of things he missed, the opportunity this year with injuries. I think all three are intelligent players, guys who go out there with the right demeanor, but they've got to gain more experience and that's true for any rookie in this league and especially guys who have dealt with injuries early in their career."
Hopefully, for the Giants, that will happen next season.
*In addition to Toney, wide receiver John Ross (knee) and quarterback Mike Glennon (wrist) will not play Sunday. Glennon was hurt last week in Chicago and the team announced earlier this week he will undergo surgery. Ross played in 10 games and caught 11 passes for 224 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown in New Orleans on Oct. 3.
Three players are questionable: guard Will Hernandez, who has not missed a snap this season, with an ankle injury, fullback Cullen Gillaspia (knee) and wide receiver Collin Johnson (hamstring).
*The Giants practiced outside today, despite the overnight snowstorm that hit the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.
"They've plowed out the snow for us," Judge said. "It looks like there's still a little bit of residue out there. We'll be out there playing in the snow today."
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