EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Is there any reason Kadarius Toney shouldn't play for the Giants Sunday in their season opener against the Denver Broncos in MetLife Stadium?
"No, unless you want to go make one up," Toney said with a smile today.
Toney also said, "really that's on the coaches. I'm here to play, I'm here to do my job, so it's whatever they say."
Well, they would certainly like to see their rookie wide receiver play. Toney, the Giants' first-round draft choice this year, missed much of training camp and did not play a down in the preseason after spending time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and then suffering a hamstring injury. He was officially limited in practice today but expects to be in uniform on Sunday.
"I'm good," Toney said.
Giants fans have yet to see Toney in action. What can they expect from him?
"Early on, I really just expect to contribute as much as I can to the team," he said. "There is not a really definite answer to that, I guess you could say. You've just got to go with the flow, I guess, how everything goes so far."
Coach Joe Judge was asked if it's realistic for Toney to have a significant role as a wide receiver or kickoff returner against Denver.
"I'd say in terms of significant, I look at that not so much as volume, but production," Judge said. "I'd say it is realistic for him to have a significant role based on how he practices this week. We're seeing his health improve, we've seen him do a lot of things with the team as we've kept on moving. He's handled the installs very well. I'd say for a player who hasn't seen obviously preseason games or a lot of significant time volume-wise on the field with the guys through preseason, he's been able to go out there and manage it and execute in practice what we've asked him to.
"I think that's a tribute to how he's worked off the field, I think it's a tribute to the coaches, (wide receivers coach) Tyke (Tolbert) and (offensive quality control) Russ (Callaway), of how they've gotten some extra work with him and meeting work throughout training camp to get him caught up to speed and making sure him and (wide receiver) Kenny (Golladay) and some other players who were nicked and banged throughout training camp didn't lose the mental installs we went on through physically."
View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Broncos.
Safety Jabrill Peppers has been impressed by Toney's talents in practice.
"Gifted athlete, (has) exceptional ball skills, (a) quick twitch, great burst," Peppers said. "I haven't seen him open up full speed yet, but from the times that I did see him running in little, short spaces, he looks pretty fast. We've got a lot of really fast guys here now, but that's been my consensus of him. Whenever he's ready to get back out there, I'll be excited to see him out there playing."
So are all the Giants, who believe Toney can be a consistent contributor in their offense. He played in 38 games with 13 starts in four seasons at the University of Florida, where he caught 120 passes for 1,590 yards (13.2-yard avg.) and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 580 yards and two touchdowns on 66 carries. He also averaged 11.3 yards and scored one touchdown on 13 punt returns and 21.6 yards on 15 kickoff returns.
"Really, I can impact (the game) in a lot of ways depending on what they exactly scheme up and do," Toney said. "But really just looking forward to going out there and just impacting as much as I can as soon as I can. I just want to win right now."
Toney earned a reputation as a player who can take a five-yard pass and turn it into a 50-yard gain. How does a receiver repeatedly do that?
"It really takes buying into what you're doing because any play could be a big play – not only by me, but by anybody," Toney said. "As far as just buying into what you've got to do, believing in the play call, that's really what it starts with."
On Sunday, Toney will finally have an opportunity to show the Giants and their fans what he can do.
"I'm ready to play," Toney said. "I wake up with that itch every day – it's not more of what I'm doing or what I'm not doing. I wake up itching every day just because I love to play the game."
View photos of the Giants' first unofficial depth chart of the 2021 season.