The Giants were back on the practice field Thursday ahead of this weekend's matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
Prior to the start of practice, coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey met with reporters for their weekly press conference. Running back Saquon Barkley spoke to the media after practice.
Here are five things we learned from Thursday's media sessions.
1. Giants confident in Tyrod if called upon
Starting quarterback Daniel Jones has yet to practice this week, which opens up the door for Tyrod Taylor to potentially start Sunday night. After filling in last week once Jones departed with a neck injury, Taylor completed nine of 12 passes (75 percent) for 86 yards and a 94.4 passer rating. The veteran quarterback also added three rushing attempts for an additional 14 yards.
Taylor has yet to start a game for the Giants, but the 34-year-old has plenty of experience in that department from his previous stops, including his time with the Bills. Taylor spent three seasons as Buffalo's starter from 2015-17 and led the team to a 23-20 record in his starts. During that time, he completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 8,857 yards, 51 touchdowns and 16 interceptions along with 1,575 yards and 14 scores on the ground. Taylor last started a game as a member of the Houston Texans back in 2021.
"Tyrod has a done great job since he's been here," Mike Kafka said. "He's a veteran guy, like you said. I have a lot of confidence in him and all the guys on our offense really to go out there and execute… Tyrod is a veteran player. He controls the huddle. I think he does a great job of, obviously, getting the ball out. He can make plays outside the pocket as well. He's done that his whole career."
The Bills' defense has played well against the pass this year, ranking eighth in yards and third in touchdowns allowed. Additionally, their eight interceptions are tied for the most in the NFL. However, the Bills lost No. 1 cornerback Tre'Davious White to a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 4 and have seen its pass defense take a hit ever since. After averaging 142.3 passing yards allowed per game in the first three weeks, Buffalo is allowing an average of 264.5 passing yards in the last two games.
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 6 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
2. Latest on Saquon
The Giants have been without starting running back Saquon Barkley for the last three games, so it should not come as a surprise that the run game has taken a bit of a hit during that stretch. In the last three weeks, Giants running backs Matt Breida, Eric Gray and Gary Brightwell have combined for just 107 yards on 47 carries, an average of 2.3 yards per carry. Prior to injuring his ankle, Barkley took 29 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown while adding nine receptions for 41 yards and an additional score.
Barkley spoke to the media after getting in his second consecutive limited practice Thursday. While his ankle is improving, he was not ready to commit to playing Sunday night.
"I feel like I'm trending every week," the running back said. "I felt better last Wednesday and last Thursday, this Thursday, Wednesday, than last Wednesday and Thursday. But when you have injuries, sometimes it takes time. Like I said, just been listening to the trainers, coming in here and try to do everything I can, and taking it day by day...
"It sucks, because as a competitor, you want to be out there. It's not like more of the mindset of I want to be out there, it's going to change something. More of the mindset of just seeing your guys fight and you can do nothing about it. It's hard to lead. It's hard to have a presence when you're on a sideline in a hat and a hoodie in street clothes. So, I think it's important for me to get back out there, especially where we are at in the season, and I feel like I can make an impact and hopefully I'm able to show that."
Buffalo has struggled against the run this year. The Bills rank 30th in yards and 31st in touchdowns allowed on the ground, and have surrendered an average of 169 rushing yards over the last two outings.
3. Pugh becoming familiar with the offense
The Giants brought back a familiar face last week when they signed offensive lineman Justin Pugh to the practice squad. The veteran lineman was a first-round pick of the Giants back in 2013 and spent his first five seasons with the franchise before playing the next five years with the Arizona Cardinals.
Pugh tore his ACL during Week 6 of last season and has been working his way back ever since. The 33-year-old has been with the team for just over a week now, and while it remains to be seen when the Giants will call him up from the practice squad, Kafka is encouraged with what he's seen out of Pugh.
"Justin has done a nice job stepping in here in the last week or so and trying to get familiarity as much as he can with the offense," said the offensive coordinator. "He's a good worker. I know he's had a little bit of a past here, so he has some familiarity with the organization, he's been great to talk with and one of those veteran guys that you look at that has played in some games."
4. Wink breaks down Allen, Diggs
The Bills' offense enters this matchup ranking in the top five in both points and yards this season. The biggest reason for that has been the performance of quarterback Josh Allen. The sixth-year quarterback leads the NFL with a career-best 73.1 completion percentage to go with his 1,407 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating. He has also added 120 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
"(Quarterback Dan) Marino's arm, (running back Derrick) Henry's legs, and Curry's mindset, Steph Curry's mindset," Martindale said when asked to describe Allen. "He thinks he can hit it anywhere on the court, and that's the same way Josh is. He's just an unbelievably elite quarterback in finding extra time to hit the open receiver in tight windows, and he's got one of the strongest arms in the league."
The biggest benefactor of Allen's success has been No. 1 wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The veteran receiver ranks among the league leaders in numerous categories with his 39 receptions for 520 yards and five touchdowns. His 520 yards puts him on pace to break his previous career-best of 1,535 yards set in 2020, his first year in Buffalo.
"He's like those guys that sell a lot of jerseys," said the Giants' defensive coordinator. "I mean, you can talk about all of them, as far as the guys who want the ball in game-winning situations, and he's one of those guys. He makes a lot of plays, has great hands, runs routes, sometimes runs his own routes. I've talked to the defense about plaster coverage because the combination of those two with Josh and Diggs, I mean, it turns into, like, when you're growing up playing football at recess. The play breaks down and you've got to defend the second play, the third play, and like I said, Josh is elite at avoiding the rush, buying time, and he can put the ball wherever he wants."
5. Injury updates; Waller & Wan'Dale return to practice
For the second consecutive day, quarterback Daniel Jones (neck), left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) did not practice. Joining the three offensive starters on the sideline Thursday were outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (ankle), offensive tackle Matt Peart (shoulder), running back Gary Brightwell (ankle) and punter Jamie Gillan (illness).
In positive injury news, tight end Darren Waller (groin) and wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) both returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday. Both pass-catchers were listed as limited, as was inside linebacker Micah McFadden (ankle), who was sidelined on Wednesday.
The other limited participants in Thursday's practice were Barkley, cornerback Deonte Banks (ankle), cornerback Cor'Dale Flott (ankle), offensive linemen Shane Lemieux (groin), Marcus McKethan (knee), and Evan Neal (ankle), along with defensive lineman D.J. Davidson (knee), who was a new addition to the injury report.
As for the Bills, cornerback Dane Jackson missed his second consecutive practice with a foot injury. Offensive tackle Dion Dawkins also missed Thursday's practice due to personal reasons.
Tight ends Dawson Knox (wrist) and Dalton Kincaid (concussion) were both limited, as was defensive end Greg Rousseau (foot). Cornerback Christian Benford (shoulder), linebacker Baylon Spector (hamstring) and defensive end Shaq Lawson were all full participants.