LANDOVER, Maryland – Kadarius Toney came off the field in the third quarter and Giants coach Joe Judge dismissed him. The judge spoke to the rookie catcher for about 10 seconds, then Toney stormed off, visibly upset.
He didn’t yell at anyone, like another Giants wide receiver, but he was clearly unhappy. It was written on his face. He crossed his arms and stood alone, away from his teammates. He did not return to the game.
The Giants rookie was an afterthought in Thursday night’s offense, a brutal 30-29 loss to Washington, and he clearly wasn’t very happy about it. The Giants hopped on a train and flew back to New Jersey late Thursday night, until Friday morning. On a leisurely ride home, Toney posted a message to her Instagram: “I’m not crazy, just be lame with me.”
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Last week, Toney made his NFL debut against the Broncos and only played five snaps. Still, the Giants force-fed him on two plays early in the game, both late in the game, and he lost two yards combined on both touches. On Thursday night, Toney played 19 snaps and hasn’t been targeted on offense once. Quarterback Daniel Jones barely looked his way.
And now Toney, a rookie who missed most of training camp due to the aftermath of COVID-19, already appears to be overwhelmed by his role, just two games into his NFL career. The Giants drafted him 20th overall in April, and it doesn’t look like they figured out how to use him.
“You don’t have to have a sports car and not drive it,” someone familiar with Toney’s thought told NJ Advance Media.
Safety Jabrill Peppers expressed frustration in his role in Week 1 on Tuesday. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay was seen yelling at Daniel Jones on the sidelines late in Thursday night’s game. The Giants are only two games away from the season and discontent already seems to be spreading in the locker room.
Neither Toney nor Golladay have been made available after the game against Washington, and the rookie wide receiver has spoken to the media only twice since training camp began in late July.
On September 8, the last time he spoke, Toney was asked about his potential role at the start of the season.
“At the start, I really expect to contribute as much as possible to the team,” he said. “There’s no really definitive answer, I guess you could say. You just have to go with the flow, I guess. “
When the Giants used their first-round pick on Toney after a trade with the Bears, they opted to draft the wide receiver even though they had already signed Kenny Golladay in free agency, with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton returning. The Giants haven’t drafted a single offensive lineman this year, and now it’s week three and they desperately need help on the offensive line.
Over time, the decision to write Toney only gets more baffling. And it was with Toney who had one of the strangest career starts the Giants have had with a rookie, including Odell Beckham.
On the first day of Toney’s rookie minicamp, he had a problem with his crampons. The problem persisted throughout the workout and at the start of the exercises Toney was running half-barefoot. The background: Before the NFL Draft, Toney signed a deal with Adidas – which he announced on his Instagram – and so had to wear cleats with the Giants that he had never worn before. The University of Florida, where Toney played, was sponsored by Nike and then by Jordan Brand when he played there. It hurt his foot. He quit this practice early.
Then Toney skipped voluntary OTAs, an unusual move for a rookie first-round pick, even though he had yet to sign his contract. Some members of the Giants’ organization were not thrilled with the move, which was seen as a directive from its agents.
When Toney showed up to training camp in late July, he tested positive for COVID-19. At first he felt asymptomatic, then it got worse. Toney missed the first week or so of training camp and then started to ramp up to the point that he fully participated in the team drills one day, getting reps with the newbies. It was the last time he did this at training camp.
Toney was still feeling the effects of COVID-19, and then he also injured his hamstrings. He missed all three preseason games and didn’t start training fully until just before Week 1.
The judge was asked before that Broncos game – which the Giants lost 27-13 – if Toney could have an “important role” right away.
His response: “I’m looking at this not so much in volume as in production. I would say it is realistic for him to have an important role depending on how he trains … I would say for a player who obviously hasn’t seen preseason games or a lot of important time in the field. with the guys in the preseason he was able to go out there and handle it and execute in training what we asked of him.
Well the volume hasn’t been there for two weeks.
The production either.
And Toney, apparently, isn’t thrilled about it.
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Zack Rosenblatt can be reached at [email protected].