Darius Slayton caught three passes for 32 yards in the Giants’ sixth game of the 2019 season.
“A solid game,” the wide receiver said of the effort.
Far from his best performance in his rookie year, but certainly not his worst. But it turned out to have some added significance.
What Slayton didn’t know at the time — what no one knew at the time — was it was the first in-person chance he had to make an impression on the man who would become his new head coach.
“I guess in a way it was,” Slayton said, chuckling.
That game was against the Patriots, with Joe Judge on the sideline running New England’s special teams units. Now, three months after that night in Foxborough, Judge is the head coach of the Giants and Slayton is getting ready to embark on his second season with the team.
Slayton told Newsday in a phone interview on Thursday that, like many around the league, he knows very little about Judge. It’s been a week and a half since Judge was hired, and the two have yet to connect in a conversation or even a quick text exchange.
“Not really,” Slayton said. “I’ve been home in Atlanta and I haven’t been up there in Jersey to meet him in person. I’m sure he’s got a million things going on, so I’ll speak with him eventually. I’m sure that time will come.”
Until then, Slayton can only piece together a rough sketch of the man who now is in charge of his team.
“I don’t know too much about him, but I know he’s coming from a well-respected franchise,” Slayton said. “I know our management, they saw something in him, so I have faith in them. I believe they chose the right guy.”
The Giants have yet to hire an offensive coordinator, so Slayton doesn’t even know what kind of system he’ll be part of. He was glad to know that Judge retained Tyke Tolbert as the wide receivers coach, but besides that, Slayton gets most of his information about the Giants from news crawls and headlines these days.
Slayton did watch Judge’s introductory news conference last week.
“He definitely sounded like he’s ready to come in and try to put his imprint on our team and win some games,” he said. “I’m all about that.”
The reverse of the dynamic is that Judge knows very little about Slayton, those three catches against the Patriots notwithstanding. What would Slayton like Judge to learn?
“That I worked hard last season to have the success I had,'' he said, "and I’m going to work hard going into this next season to try to continue that."
Slayton spoke from the Panini Rookie Closeout at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles. He and others coming off their first NFL seasons were talking to the bowl players about the transition from college to the pros and also signing their rookie trading cards to be inserted in the remaining 2019 Panini packages.
“Winning in the NFL isn’t easy,” he said of the biggest thing he learned in his first go-around in the league. “Everybody has professional football players and you have to really prepare week in and week out to have a chance to be competitive.”
The Giants, he insisted, can be that in 2020.
“I think the talent is there,” he said. “This past year, we had a lot of injuries to our key players on offense and a lot of youth on our team. Come back next year, we get healthy, a year of experience for all of us rookies and second- and third-year guys, I think it’ll do nothing but help our team’s success.”