EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – His hair and jersey both soggy with sweat shortly after walking off the practice field, Nick Gates told reporters, "right now, I'm getting the chills."
Uh oh. Was the Giants' center catching a cold?
Nah, he was just getting emotional. On Monday, Gates learned his teammates had selected him one of the Giants' seven captains for the 2021 season.
"It's an honor just to be a captain, especially for this great organization the Giants have," said Gates, a fourth-year pro and second-year starter. "Just the people that have come before me that are captains, just to be able to be a part of that legacy, it's awesome. I'm really excited and really honored."
Gates was not expecting to hear his name called when coach Joe Judge revealed the results of the players' vote after practice on Monday. He is joined as a captain by some of the team's most prominent players: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Blake Martinez, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers and Graham Gano.
"Definitely a surprise," Gates said. "I mean, I've been in a couple meetings with the guys and everything, but I was definitely surprised. I'm real honored to be a part of the guys and that the guys see me as that kind of person. I've just got to keep coming to work and keep doing what I'm doing to show them why they picked me."
View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Broncos.
*Judge likely looks forward to the day when he is no longer asked daily for Saquon Barkley updates. After beginning his news conference with a lengthy rundown of the Denver Broncos, the Giants' opponent in their opener in MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Judge fielded three consecutive questions about Barkley, who is making his return after missing most of the 2020 season with a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery.
Barkley was limited in practice and Judge was asked what he wanted to see from his star running back.
"A large degree of what I want to see is kind of how he responds to some contact," Judge said. "We're going to be in pads today, bumping some guys around a little bit, some different drills we're going to do. I want to see how he puts together three straight days of work as well. There's a big part in just watching our players' bodies respond. He's no different than a lot of other guys we have right now coming off of injury that we're going to have to see if these next three days in terms of what they can handle by load and how we think their bodies are going to respond going into Sunday. We've got to make the best decision for everybody's health going into the game. Saquon's no different than that, so we're taking that lens of player safety as we go ahead and look at all these guys for the opener."
Denver coach Vic Fangio said on a conference call that he expects to see Barkley carry the ball Sunday.
"He's obviously eligible to play," Fangio said. "He's on the roster. We're under the assumption that he will play and until we know otherwise, that's the assumption we'll take. He's a hell of a player, obviously, and I'm sure they'll play him if he's ready to go."
*Cornerback Adoree' Jackson, who hurt his ankle in the joint practices with New England two weeks ago, was also limited. But he conceded he did not participate in team drills.
"I was getting a lot of mental reps," he said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time. Whatever they have me do, I'm willing to do it."
Asked if he thinks he will play Sunday, Jackson said, "I'm just getting my prep in like I am, but it's ultimately up to the coaches and what they decide."
*Tight end Evan Engram (calf) was the only player on the 53-man roster who did not practice today as the Giants released their first injury report of the season. In addition to Barkley and Jackson, eight players were limited: wide receivers Kenny Golladay (hamstring) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring), tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot), tackle Andrew Thomas (ankle), defensive lineman Danny Shelton (neck), linebacker Justin Hilliard (foot) and cornerback Josh Jackson (calf).
*The Broncos' offensive coordinator is Pat Shurmur, who was Judge's immediate predecessor as the Giants' head coach.
"I'd say in terms of a relationship with Pat, I knew Pat through the business," Judge said. "I got to meet him at the combine a few years back. We actually had some familiar family friends from his time in Philadelphia and obviously my time growing up there. Some people that kind of came in common. I think Pat's a fine man. We've shared a beer together. We've gone to Mass together. We've gotten ashes on Ash Wednesday together.
"This is a guy that I've always taken time to sit down and talk with. I think he's one of the great offensive minds in all of football. I think he does a fantastic job. I can't speak highly enough of him as a person. I think he's a fantastic person. He's a great man. I think a lot of players in this building obviously have ties with him. I think that's important. This guy came to work every day and did his best to put these guys in a position to be successful and our guys recognize that. This guy worked hard every day for them. So, it's a small league. You have relationships with a lot of guys. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of their coordinators. Pat would definitely not be an exception to that."