EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The four high-profile Giants offensive playmakers who were inactive for the victory against Carolina returned to the practice field today, a step toward their potential return Monday night in Kansas City.
That's as definitive a statement as we can make five days before the game.
The Giants will not release their first injury report of the week until tomorrow. Because coach Joe Judge spoke to reporters prior to practice, it was unclear exactly how much the players participated in practice. But Judge did say the group would work with the team’s athletic trainers.
Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee), Kadarius Toney (ankle), and Sterling Shepard (hamstring) all missed last week's game, making spectators of players who have accounted for 194 rushing yards, 82 receptions and four touchdowns. The first three players were declared out of the game on Friday. Shepard tested his hamstring in a brief pregame workout before being placed on the inactive list.
The Giants are hopeful of welcoming back as many of them as possible for the game against the two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.
"I would say that being a Monday night game, there's a little bit more of a window of time," Judge said. "They've all made progress. We're going to move them around today. Tomorrow, we'll probably have a much better idea in terms of going into the game with them (and) what they're going to look like. I wouldn't say anything that happens today or tomorrow would rule them out or guarantee them at the game, but today should give us a little bit of an insight into it and then really tomorrow in terms of how much they can do individually, how much they can do in some team periods, what are they able to do when they're out there."
Barkley and Golladay were hurt on Oct. 11 in Dallas and have missed the last two games. Toney, who set a franchise rookie record with 189 receiving yards vs. the Cowboys, aggravated his ankle injury on the game's first series the following week against the L.A. Rams. Shepard and fellow receiver Darius Slayton both injured hamstrings on Sept. 26. The former missed two games before catching 10 passes in his return to action vs. Los Angeles. While Shepard was inactive last week, Slayton played after sitting out three games and had five receptions for 63 yards.
Though the Giants held out some hope that Shepard would face the Panthers, it quickly became obvious when he was tested 2½ two hours before kickoff that it wouldn't be possible.
"It was at a point that he wasn't going to be able to go out there in the game and that we felt good enough that he was going to go out there and stay," Judge said. "Shep's a tough dude. I'm just telling you, if he had to duct tape the leg back on, he would've gone out there and done it, so we had to kind of help make the decision for him because we know he's going to push through whatever it is. From a medical standpoint, the medical staff had to go ahead and have some insight in making sure that we put him in a good position to maybe go forward the rest of the season and be healthy.
"We just wanted to get him to that pregame workout to see if he had a chance to go. Shep's a guy that's experienced, he prepares really well through either walkthroughs or just being in the meetings. He's a guy that can go out there and operate within a game. Ideally, you want everybody on the field for timing. There are different levels of guys based on experience with both the players that they're going to be playing with on the field and just in general where you have a little more flexibility of what did they do during the week, can they get to the game? Shep's a guy that with his experience and his experience specifically with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones), I'd say as far as their timing and chemistry, you feel a little better about saying, 'Okay, if we can get this guy to the game in certain weeks, we can get him up and back.'"
Shepard is not on the same track as Barkley, Golladay or Toney.
"I think he's a little bit different because he was close to playing last week, but I wouldn't say it's too far removed," Judge said. "Obviously, he didn't play in the game last week, so he'll be in the crew today over with the trainers, moving around to see how far out he is."
Regarding the other three players, Judge declined to say if one or more were further along in the recoveries.
"They have three different injuries, three different bodies," Judge said. "There's different timetables for all of these guys. I'm not going to go ahead and give a 'This guy's further ahead.' With these injuries, it sounds like day by day different guys are at different points and some days it sounds like one guy is further along than another guy. What we ask from the trainers is just give us accurate information and let us know so we can plan accordingly."
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