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Golladay, Toney look to step up amid receiver injuries

Kenny Golladay (19)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today made the unsurprising announcement that three players hurt last week against Atlanta will not play Sunday against the Saints in New Orleans. Wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton each strained hamstrings and guard Ben Bredeson injured his hand.

Coach Joe Judge did not announce who will start at left guard. The candidates are Matt Skura and Wes Martin, either of whom would make his Giants debut. Skura has made 62 career regular-season and postseason starts, though none at left guard. He was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 2 and to the active roster on Sept. 16. Skura was in uniform but did not play against the Falcons.

Martin, who was signed off the Washington Football Team's practice squad this week, has 10 career starts – five each at left and right guard.

Whoever plays will be the Giants' fourth starting left guard in as many games, joining Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates and Bredeson. Lemieux and Gates have both undergone surgery.

Despite missing the second half of last week's game, Shepard leads the Giants with 18 receptions and 223 yards. He has one of the team's two touchdown catches. Slayton has the other and has seven receptions for 127 yards.

The absence of Shepard and Slayton will give more opportunities to the team's other wideouts, including Kenny Golladay, rookie Kadarius Toney, C.J. Board, Collin Johnson, and if he is activated, John Ross.

Golladay is second on the team with 11 catches for 166 yards. Johnson led the wideouts with five receptions in his Giants debut last week. Board had just one catch, but it was a game-long 38-yarder.

"I'm not feeling it as pressure at all," Golladay said. "I've been in situations where receivers have (gone) down. At the end of the day, I've still got to do my job – and that's make plays. I'm not going to do more than what I'm asked to do."

Toney, the team's first-round draft choice this year, has been targeted by Daniel Jones five times and has four catches for just 14 yards, including two for 16 yards on consecutive plays vs. the Falcons.

"I think the biggest thing with him is that he missed a lot of time both in the spring and in training camp," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "Over the last few weeks, he's been able to practice more. We want to play him. We drafted him in the first round, we want him to do well. I think he's done a good job with the work in practice. He was going to play a lot in the game last week. Obviously, when Shep goes down and Slay goes down, he was going to play more, and I thought he handled that work really, really well. He's gotten better and better every day and every week."

Coach Joe Judge has been asked more than once if Toney is ready to "take the next step."

"Like I've said from the beginning, his role has grown as he's been on the field more, (been) more available and builtin more experience in the system and chemistry," Judge said. "His role has improved every week and increased every week, so we would expect that to be the same this week. He had a good day of practice yesterday for us, so it was encouraging. He'll be out here today and kind of go back to the game plan with him.

"In terms of who we have available, we'll have a number of guys up at the game. All the receivers will play, obviously. A number of guys will play on offense. Guys will have roles in the kicking game, as well. I would expect him to be doing more than what we've seen in previous weeks, just naturally, not based on anyone being injured. Just naturally based on his progression within the system."

Quarterback Daniel Jones is looking forward to throwing the ball to Toney.

"I think he's ready to go," Jones said. "All our guys are ready to go. Obviously, Shep and Slay have made a lot of plays for us and are guys we've counted on, but you talked about K.T. and the rest of the group, those guys are ready to step up and make plays. We'll play to their skillset. Looking forward to getting out there with them."

Toney is a native of Mobile, Ala., which is about 140 miles from New Orleans. With his parents coming to see him play and the chance he will play a larger role in the offense has Toney is particularly energized for the game.

"I'm always excited, though," he said. "It kind of gives me a different feeling when it's – well, first off, I'm playing close to home, too, so that gets me more excited because I know a lot of people will be able to come to the game and stuff like that. (It's) really just a play by play, a day-by-day thing with me, so just ready to play right now.

"(It's) been pretty good as far as accepting the role that I'm being placed in, as far as receiving more reps and stuff like that. It's just all about executing when I go out there to play."

Toney has visited the Caesars Superdome just once when he attended a Saints-Carolina Panthers game when he was in middle school. But while at the University of Florida, Toney played LSU in nearby Baton Rouge, where he saw – and heard – firsthand the fervent Louisiana football fans.

"Really expecting a lot of chaos because (at) LSU, going there and playing there, that's really crazy," Toney said. "I wouldn't compare it to the Swamp (the Gators' home stadium) because nothing compares to the Swamp, but it's up there. It's a pretty hard place to really get a lot of communication out, as far as being loud."

On Sunday, Toney could get his first big Giants opportunity, on a big stage with a large and loud crowd that includes his family watching.

"I'm always ready to go no matter where it is," Toney said. "We could play in the parking lot right there. No matter where it is, I'm always having that same energy, the same juice, so I don't really feel like it's based off the situation."

But this situation is one in which he hopes to excel.

*The Giants listed four players as questionable for Sunday: tight end Kaden Smith (knee), linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring), and defensive backs Keion Crossen (elbow) and Nate Ebner (quad).

*The Giants lead the all-time series with the Saints, 16-14. New Orleans won the most recent meeting, on Sept. 30, 2018 in MetLife Stadium, 33-18. The Giants are 3-8 in the Superdome, where they have lost five consecutive games dating back to 1994 and last won in 1993.

View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.

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