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Presser Points: Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal have an 'opportunity to play' in Week 9

News has been flying back and forth between New York and Las Vegas, and pretty soon the Giants will make the trip themselves.

The NFL awoke Wednesday morning to find out that the Raiders relieved Josh McDaniels and David Ziegler of their duties as head coach and general manager, respectively. While Champ Kelly took over the latter duties, the interim head coach will be Giants legend Antonio Pierce, who was in his second season as linebackers coach.

The former captain and Super Bowl champion will now face his former team this Sunday in the Giants' first game ever in Las Vegas. Speaking on the other side of the country, coach Brian Daboll met with reporters before Wednesday's practice as preparations ramp up for Week 9.

"I've been on the other side of that, too," Daboll said. "When I was at Miami, (Buccaneers Head Coach) Todd Bowles took over. Again, you have to really focus on your team and getting prepared and watching all the games. You can only do so much. They didn't change coordinators in Miami, but I've been there on the other side of it, so we'll do our normal preparation and try to get ready to play our best game."

Here's what else you need to know from Daboll:

🔹 Ahead of Tuesday's NFL deadline, the Giants traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams, one of their team captains, to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 2024 second-round draft choice and a 2025 fifth-round selection. They acquired Williams from the Jets exactly four years ago for third- and fifth-round draft choices. Daboll addressed the move for the first time publicly.

"Love Leo, a lot of respect for Leo. I'd say that Seattle called (Senior Vice President/General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and Joe told me about it. Joe had a private meeting with Leo, those guys talked about it, good conversation and decided that's what we were going to do kind of on both ends. A lot of respect for Leo, certainly we'll miss him but have confidence in the guys (defensive lineman) A'Shawn Robinson and (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) Nacho and those guys that we have that are playing his spot."

🔹 On how he addressed the team about the move: "I think you tell them how it went down; Joe wasn't actively shopping anyone. Obviously, he fields calls as a general manager, so we have confidence in the guys that we have and let's go out there and have a good week."

🔹 Daboll knows quarterback Daniel Jones is "excited" after he received clearance from a neck injury that sidelined him for three games. "He's played with Saquon (Barkley) for a bit, so it's just good to have him back and we'll see where these other (injured) guys are at the end of the week."

🔹 Jones will be full-go and there won't be any easing him back in. "He's good to go."

🔹 Starting tackles Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and Evan Neal (ankle) have an "opportunity to play" this week. "Again, we'll take that day by day and see where they are on Friday."

🔹 Tight end Darren Waller, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury and did not return, will not practice to start the week. "We'll take him day by day, but you never know how hamstrings are, so we'll see where he's at by the end of the week."

🔹 The Giants will also await the status of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who suffered a rib cage injury in his third start for Jones. It required him to spend the night in the hospital for evaluation, but Daboll said there is no "internal" issue aside from the ribs.

🔹 Asked about the possibility of Taylor landing on injured reserve, Daboll said, "Let's see how this meeting goes with the doctors. Again, he says he's feeling better, but he's got to go meet with the doctor. That's what he's going to do right now."

🔹 On Tuesday, the team signed quarterback Matt Barkley to the practice squad. A fourth-round draft choice by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, Barkley has started seven of 19 career games played for three different teams. He was most recently in his second stint with the Buffalo Bills, who released him on Sept. 1. He appeared in eight career games with Buffalo while Brian Daboll was the offensive coordinator. In his most recent start, Barkley led the Bills to a 41-10 victory over the New York Jets by completing 15 of 25 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

"Well, Matt's had familiarity in what we do and understands our terminology. Called a game, actually against the Jets I think, with Matt back in '18 or somewhere around there, pretty good result. But he's been around, he's been with us for a while, he knows our stuff. Again, we'll see where Ty's at and we'll go from there."

Prior to the NFL, the 6-foot-2, 234-pound Barkley left USC with career records for passing yards, completions, touchdown passes, 400-yard passing games, and 300-yard passing games. He was also the Pac-12's all-time leading passer and the only player to throw more than 100 touchdowns.

🔹 Daboll said McDaniels is a "very good friend. We go way back to 1998 at Michigan State as graduate assistants. I know him, his wife Laura, kids. Zig (former Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler), I know Zig well. So, again, of course you never want to see that happen to anybody, they work extremely hard, everybody does, and you have relationships, so your thought really doesn't go to the coaching part of it, it goes to more to the personal part of it as a friend, as a good friend and his kids, his wife. It's an unfortunate part of the business."

🔹 Daboll also has ties to Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who held the same position with the Giants before he arrived. They were also former Patriots assistants. "I like him as a coach and a person. I've known him for a good amount, he does a good job. They don't give up a lot of big plays. He's got good football knowledge, smart guy, good friend. I think he does a good job."

🔹 On the possibility of facing Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell instead of Jimmy Garoppolo: "I thought he played well in the preseason. I think he throws on time; he's got good pocket presence. He's accurate, he's thrown the three-step game, they moved him a little bit in the preseason. He throws good overs; he can throw the deep ball. Again, he's a young player. It was a close game; they were down 24-7 against the Chargers and then they had a chance to tie it there at the end and threw the interception to (Chargers cornerback Asante) Samuel (Jr.) there on the right-hand side, but again, he's a young quarterback. We'll watch him on the tape, which again those three preseasons games that I talked about, the fourth quarter of the Chicago game, which he threw it every play, they were done 30-7 I think it was. And then, the Chargers game, so that's the body of work you go off of."

🔹 On facing an interim head coach: "You're always going to try and prepare the best you can, but again, it's three days here and I can't say what they are going to do or not do. I know AP (Raiders interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce), went down to – when I was looking at (quarterback) Matt Corral down there in California at a high school and he was the head coach. So, again, you prepare the best way you can. There is obviously a bunch of games to look at and get ready to play the game."

View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.


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