Shifty receiver Kadarius Toney is great at changing directions, but it’s not a good sign that he is headed backwards on the Giants’ injury report.
Toney (hamstring) was downgraded from a limited participant in practice Thursday to not practicing Friday, three days before the Giants will face the Cowboys.
Because the Giants only held a walkthrough, practice participation is an estimation, which makes it all the more unusual to see a change in status, especially considering Toney first injured his hamstring in mid-August and he played despite being on the report last week.
“I was on it, off it, game played, we won, end of discussion,” Toney said recently when asked if he was in jeopardy of not playing against the Panthers last week. “It’s a mindset thing. It’s all about what you want to do, what you want to get accomplished.”
Nothing else changed on the injury report Friday, which listed DBs Justin Layne (concussion), Nick McCloud (hamstring) and Aaron Robinson (appendix), DL Leonard Williams (knee), and Toney and fellow WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) as out of practice. DBs Dane Belton (clavicle) and Jason Pinnock (shoulder), OLBs Azeez Ojulari (calf) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and C Jon Feliciano (shin) were projected as limited participants.
The Giants will practice Saturday, when “questionable” and “doubtful” statuses will be assigned. Toney had career highs of 10 catches for 189 yards before he was ejected in his one career matchup against the Cowboys.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, 59, makes no secret: He wants to be a head coach as soon as possible.
But it seems those jobs mostly go to younger, offensive-minded candidates these days. So, Martindale, who interviewed to be the Giants’ head coach before the job went to Joe Judge in 2020 might have been expressing a little frustration, as well as paying a compliment to Cowboys’ fill-in quarterback Cooper Rush, when he commented on how Rush’s command of the offense probably will lead him into coaching after his career is over.
“He’ll be one of those cats that become an offensive coordinator and a head coach by the time he’s 38 or 39,” Martindale said. “That’s how it usually works.”
Saquon Barkley is 0-6 in six career games against the Cowboys. He is averaging 94.5 yards from scrimmage per matchup with two total touchdowns. Any extra motivation to get over the hump?
“No fire needed,” Barkley said. “I had enough motivation throughout the whole offseason just for the season in general. My mindset coming in to try to be the best player that I can be, to help this team win games. We’re off to a good start right now, but we got to keep this thing rolling.”
The Giants have scored just six first-half points and gained one or zero first downs on eight of their 11 first-half possessions over two games.
“What we’re emphasizing is the communication part of it at the line of scrimmage: player-to-player, coach-to-layer, coach-to-coach,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said. “We’ve kind of taken a step back within ourselves and said, ‘All right, how can we be cleaner on this scheme? How can we be cleaner detailed on these types of situations?’ If we can start to build on that, I think that’s when we’ll start seeing a faster start for us.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has noticed the Giants’ improvement.
“I look at how the Giants got to 2-0, and they’ve played well enough to get there,” Jones said Friday on Audacy’s 105.3-FM The Fan. “They’re a much better team than they were last year. The fact they are 2-0 will embolden them to be better.”
The Giants have two takeaways in two games on special teams, which creates “momentum,” coordinator Thomas McGaughey said.
“I always tell them,” McGaughey added, “big plays, once they start, they come in droves.”