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Giants lose LB Blake Martinez and WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton to injuries

Blake Martinez of the New York Giants is

Blake Martinez of the New York Giants is helped off the field during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sep. 26, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Giants suffered a loss at home Sunday to an Atlanta team that arrived winless like them. One question afterward was: How bad were the three losses they suffered inside this bad loss?

Three key Giants went down with injuries during the first half of the 17-14 setback at MetLife Stadium that left the team at 0-3 — middle linebacker Blake Martinez and receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.

Joe Judge had no answers on a prognosis for them, just hope that the injuries wouldn't keep them out too long.

Let’s start with Martinez. His was a non-contact knee injury. So it could be bad.

Martinez is charged with relaying the defensive signals. He’s also a tackling machine, entering the game with the second-most tackles in the NFL dating to the start of last season — 172.

He was attempting to tackle Cordarrelle Patterson after a short reception, but his knee buckled and he hit the turf. Two athletic trainers had to help Martinez off. He was done just 1:58 into the game. Tae Crowder took over the signal-caller duty, and Reggie Ragland replaced Martinez.

"Hopefully, it’s not serious," Judge said. "Blake’s obviously a key part of our team. He’s a leader. He’s a hard worker. He’s a tough dude."

Later in the first quarter, Slayton left with a hamstring injury and didn’t return. Then Shepard hurt his hamstring in the second quarter and he also didn’t return.

"I know they’ll work hard to get back," Daniel Jones said.

How soon?

"Hopefully, it’s a quick turnaround for both those guys," Judge said. "They’re obviously integral parts of our offense. I was pleased to see some other guys step up."

Collin Johnson was one of those guys. He wasn’t in training camp. He wasn’t even active for the first two games. The Giants claimed him Sept. 1 from Jacksonville. The 6-6 receiver was a 2020 fifth-round pick out of Texas by the Jaguars. He averaged 15.1 yards on 18 catches across 14 games.

In this debut with the Giants, he made a career-high five receptions, good for 51 yards.

"I try to prepare every week like my number is going to be called, so whenever it is called, I’m ready to make the play," Johnson said. "But it definitely felt good to get in a rhythm."

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