The already-steep rookie learning curve facing Kadarius Toney is getting bigger with every practice missed.
The Giants are not sugarcoating the reality of tempered expectations for their first-round pick, who barely practiced in the spring because of a variety of issues. Toney missed the start of training camp because of COVID-19 and was just settling into a rhythm late last week when he disappeared from the field again — he did not play against the Jets — after re-aggravating an undisclosed injury, according to coach Joe Judge.
“It just is what it is,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “He wants to be out there. We want him to be out there. He’s just had a couple of different situations that he’s dealing with, so what you have to do is take the approach of, ‘OK, what opportunities do I have?’ ”
Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said earlier in camp that Toney had to prove himself before being handed a job as a returner. How can he do that if he is rarely on the field?
“It’s kind of hard to do — and that’s just the reality of it,” McGaughey said. “He’ll get out there eventually. Kadarius is a smart kid, works his tail off and he just has to get through the situation right now. Once he gets through his situation, he’ll be fine.”
The repeat usage of “situation” is a curious word choice, but Toney is not being withheld because of team discipline, a team source said. So it’s a matter of injury and illness recovery that limited him to running routes and catching passes off to the side during Tuesday’s practice.
“Look, there’s nothing too much to read into this,” Judge said. “He’s doing what we’re asking him to do. Obviously, he had to come off the COVID-19 list [and] that made his timeline a little bit different than everybody else. No different than anybody else, there are bumps and bruises, things you have to deal with.”
Giants fans taking solace in the memory that Odell Beckham Jr. missed most of his first training camp and the first four games of the regular season before exploding onto the scene as the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year are banking on a repeat of the rare exception to the rule.
Toney is traveling to Cleveland, but his workload in joint practices with the Browns as well as his status for Sunday’s game are undetermined.
“The COVID-19 piece is real: It affects everybody very differently,” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “He’s had that stop-and-start, but it doesn’t make us any less than enthused about him. The kid’s got tremendous talent and he’s been great inside with his rehab. He’s been engaged in the classroom.”
Toney isn’t the only receiver missing valuable chemistry-building practice reps with quarterback Daniel Jones. Kenny Golladay (hamstring) is out after signing a $72 million free-agent contract.
“Yeah, I would have liked to have seen them on the field more,” Giants co-owner John Mara said, “but our medical people are not concerned long term about it, so that’ll be good to get them back out there. I wouldn’t say that it’s a major concern right now.”
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