Darius Slayton knew he wouldn’t be able to play in the Giants' preseason opener. He’s been out with a hamstring injury since the first day of training camp, so at a certain point, facing the Jets last week wasn’t a realistic option.
What the rookie wide receiver didn’t know was that his injury would not only keep him off the field but off the sideline. Per team policy, he spent his first NFL game watching from a suite at MetLife Stadium instead of with his teammates.
“That was new to me,” Slayton said. “That just didn’t feel right not being down there with my brothers.”
If anything, it served as an incentive to get back into action. Slayton participated in some drills on Sunday and said he expects to be fully back by the end of this week … in time for Friday’s preseason game against the Bears.
Whether or not that’s when he makes his game debut remains to be seen.
Slayton was a fifth-round pick by the Giants in the spring and the team had high hopes for him entering this preseason. Pat Shurmur repeatedly had called him the most improved player of the spring workouts. But on the first day of rookie training camp in July, Slayton suffered a hamstring pull. He has yet to be available for a full practice with the full team.
He’s also running out of time to prove his worth for the 53-man roster. A fifth-rounder hardly is guaranteed a spot on the team, even one who flashed as much ability as Slayton did. With the preseason about halfway over — just about three weeks down, just about three weeks to go — he will have to squeeze his best plays into a compressed time period.
“You still go out there and kind of let them come to you,” he said. “You play your role and the big plays will come. I’m not going out there trying to make every spectacular play, but sure enough, if one presents itself, I plan to make it.”
Just as he plans to make it for this Friday’s game, because the only thing worse than watching practices from the sideline is not being allowed to watch games from there. Slayton has learned that. He has no desire to go back to the box.
“Not at all,” he said. “Not at all.”