The growing pains certainly didn’t end for DeAndre Baker in his second NFL game.
The rookie cornerback got his first NFL start for the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, and the results were not pretty, especially in the first half of the 28-14 loss to the Bills.
Baker at times looked lost on the field as the Giants allowed three straight touchdown drives in the first half, turning a 7-0 lead into a 21-7 deficit.
Most painful moment? It’s hard to say, though Josh Allen’s 51-yard pass to Cole Beasley that set up Buffalo’s third touchdown had to rank right up there.
“This is his fourth half of football in the NFL,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “You just need to keep talking to him, and the guys did a good job of coaching him. He’s a tough guy and he learns from every play he’s involved in and he’ll continue to learn moving forward.”
Not everyone on the Giants seems to want to handle the first-round draft pick with kid gloves. Janoris Jenkins, who started opposite Baker at left corner, definitely is taking more of a tough-love approach.
“There’s some bright spots. But we don’t need bright spots,” Jenkins said when asked about Baker’s development. “We need spots. Everyone has to come and play football.
“You have to tighten up, baby. It’s the NFL, baby. You have people on the line, jobs on the line, family you gotta feed. You can’t keep coming out here and going 0-2.”
The Giants have a lot invested in Baker’s success. Convinced that he was the best cornerback in the draft, they traded up into the first round to take Baker out of Georgia with the 30th overall pick.
Baker was honored with the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back, but getting him was not an inexpensive proposition. In exchange for the pick, the Giants gave the Seahawks a second-round pick (No. 37), a fourth-rounder (No. 132) and a fifth-rounder (No. 142).
It was a rough or absent day for all three of the Giants’ first-rounders. Quarterback Daniel Jones, the No. 6 overall pick, spent the game on the sideline. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, the No. 17 overall pick, was whistled for unnecessary roughness on a field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter, setting up Buffalo’s fourth touchdown.
Baker had a good preseason and said Sunday that he thinks he is learning every time he steps on the field. He admitted that the speed of the pro game will take some adjustment.
“Right now, I’m not playing as fast as I could be,” he said. “But that just comes with the preparation and timing. Within our room, the guys are helping me get the scheme right.
“It will come. I don’t feel like there’s pressure. I’ve played with a lot of pressure. So the better the pressure, the better I play.”