Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney are two of the most important players on the New York Giants’ offense, wide receivers the Giants need to be difference-makers. Entering the 2022 season, though, they are two of the team’s biggest question marks.
Neither player gave the Giants what they needed, or expected, in 2021.
Golladay, signed to a backloaded four-year, $72 million contract by former GM Dave Gettleman, did not come close in 2021 to being the playmaking No. 1 receiver he was signed to be. He caught just 37 passes for 521 yards and — unbelievably for a player who built a career off size, physicality and contested-catch ability — did not score a touchdown.
Toney, selected No. 20 overall after the first trade down in Gettleman’s career as a GM, caught 39 passes for 420 yards. While playing in only 10 games, he also did not score a touchdown. We saw a flash of his ability with a 10-catch, 189-yard game against the Dallas Cowboys, but there was always something with Toney. Injuries that kept him out of games and practices for long stretches. Social media missteps. Constant hints from the former coaching staff that the rookie had not earned their trust.
Both players spoke to media on Thursday. As it happens, GM Joe Schoen was also available to media and spoke about both players. Let’s look at where things are with each player.
Kenny Golladay: Practice makes perfect
Golladay, 28, had an up-and-down training camp/preseason. There were days when he made the kind of contested catches and downfield plays the Giants expected when they handed him that massive contract. There were other days when Golladay dropped passes or seemed to be invisible.
He caught only one pass for 6 yards and had a goal line drop while playing in all three preseason games.
The best thing about Golladay’s summer? In contrast to a season ago, when he missed nearly all of training camp with a hamstring injury, Golladay was available every day.
“I just want to remain healthy,” Golladay said. “I’m very blessed that I was able to go through this whole training camp healthy. I’m able to be a part of each practice just to get that chemistry down.
“I feel a lot better coming into this. As far as just the training staff, medical, coaches, they did it the right way to try to make sure everybody was on the field at all times, just so we can get all of that chemistry and everything. Of course, some injuries you have no control over. I feel like (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabes and the rest of his staff have done a pretty good job.”
Schoen revealed on Thursday that Golladay had “a little procedure” in the offseason, which is why he was held out of spring practices. Neither the GM nor the player elaborated Thursday on the nature of that procedure.
“He’s good. He’s come to work every day, great kid, works hard, knows his assignments,” Schoen said. “I don’t think he missed a practice ... he’s been good.”
Giants fans focused on Golladay’s 2021 season, and a less than stellar preseason that saw some question Golladay’s effort on a missed run block in the preseason finale, would disagree with the “good” assessment.
Golladay did explain the missed block against the New York Jets.
“I have to tempo off the line a little bit because I can’t be an illegal man blocking down the field because there was a screen early on,” Golladay said. “So, Wan’Dale (Robinson) is going to do a screen behind the ball, the ball bounced out to the left, and it was either that or I was going to potentially block in the back or hold. I was already kind of out of position.
Golladay said Thursday that “I don’t pay attention” to the outside noise, whether it is about his production or a seeming lack of emotion.
“I’m being myself,” Golladay said. “I’m pretty sure if I was out there catching touchdowns or just grabs ... I don’t know if you guys would be saying I’m out there showing no emotion.”
For Golladay, it goes like this. If he produces some of those big plays, that will quell at least some of the noise — although there will always complaints about his paycheck. If he doesn’t, that negative narrative is just going to grow louder.
Kadarius Toney: ‘Ready to go for Week 1’
The saying goes that the best ability is availability. Since he left his very first rookie mini-camp practice as an NFL player with a cleat issue that saw him spend part of practice running around with just one cleat on, that has been the biggest issue for the talented 23-year-old.
He just has not been consistently available.
Last season, Toney had a hamstring injury that sidelined him most of training camp. He had COVID-19 twice. He missed time with ankle, quad, oblique and shoulder injuries.
So far, 2022 has been more of the same.
Toney had minor offseason knee surgery, a procedure that limited him to catching passes off the JUGGS machine throughout spring practices. Toney would not provide details Thursday on the leg injury he suffered, believed to be a hamstring, early in training camp. He said only that “you’ve got to ask Dabes or somebody.” Toney did not return to practice until last week when he began doing individual drills.
Toney and the Giants, though, expect him to be on the field Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans.
“I’m ready to go for Week 1,” was Toney’s simple response Thursday to questions about his health.
“We’re planning on him being ready on September 11th when we go play Tennessee,” Schoen said. “I’m excited to get to see Kadarius. He didn’t play in any preseason games so I’m excited to see him get on the field in a game in a meaningful opportunity and know the playbook and make plays.”
The Brian Daboll/Mike Kafka passing attack, with a large emphasis on RPOs and quick throws designed to get the ball to playmakers in space and allowing them to create yards after catch, would seem perfectly suited to Toney’s skillset.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to be available when my number is called,” Toney said. “Football is unpredictable so you can’t ever really say what’s going to happen or what’s not going to happen. You can get hurt running routes on air out there. It’s not really hard to get hurt. But it’s just all about taking care of your body, all about recovery. So, I’ll just have to do a better job of doing that.”
Toney said he doesn’t set goals, but that “I expect to do better than I did last year.”
Provided he can stay available — for practices and games — that should be a given.