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Giants Q & A: What's next after injuries to Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard?

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) tries to

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) tries to break free from Chicago Bears defensive tackle John Jenkins (90) during the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.  Credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Wasn’t this going to be the game in which Daniel Jones finally had all of his targets available?

Yes. With Golden Tate active after missing the opener with a hamstring injury, Sunday was in fact the first time that Jones played any single snap with the full assortment of offensive weapons at his disposal. That list included Tate, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. The full house lasted just over a quarter of play before Barkley left the game with what likely will be determined to be a torn ACL.

"It’s certainly a tough break there for us," Jones said after the 17-13 loss to the Bears.

Barkley’s potentially season-ending knee injury was obviously the most significant one for the Giants, but it wasn’t the only one. What happened to Shepard?

The wide receiver injured his left toe after he caught a 24-yard pass over the middle with eight seconds left in the first half. "It looked like the defensive back landed on his foot," Joe Judge said. Shepard left the field in visible pain and headed to the locker room. He returned to the field for the start of the third quarter but lasted just one play after trying to run a route and being unable to make a cut.

"He tried to play through it," Judge said. "Obviously it was something he couldn’t really run full speed on."

Shepard will be evaluated by doctors in New York on Monday.

The Giants have depth to help replace Shepard. What about Barkley?

Not as much. They had just three true running backs on the 53-man roster (plus fullback Eli Penny) and had just one besides Barkley active for Sunday’s game. Wayne Gallman was a healthy scratch, leaving the lode to veteran Dion Lewis. He ran for 20 yards on 10 carries. "I've been around him a long time," Judge said of Lewis, who he coached with the Patriots. "One thing you know about Dion is he's prepared and the guys really respond to him because he is a tough dude and he's got that look in his eye that he's going to do whatever it takes to work with the team and benefit the team. I was proud for how he played out there today."

As for moving forward, veteran Rod Smith is on the Giants’ practice squad. The Giants also had undrafted rookie Javon Leake with them in training camp. He remains a free agent.

How did James Bradberry make that no-look interception?

The cornerback never turned around for the ball as he covered Allen Robinson on the sideline, but was able to yank it away from the receiver as the two of them fell to the ground. "I didn’t see it because I had my eyes on him and I was going to make a play through his arms and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time," Bradberry said. "I was able to get one hand on it and pull it through as I came to the ground."

Was that the most unexpected catch of the game?

Hardly. That honor came in the fourth quarter when, on fourth-and-2 from the Giants' 36, Mitchell Trubisky threw a pass for TE J.P. Holtz that was broken up by linebackers Blake Martinez and Devante Downs, but the ball popped up in the air and was caught by right tackle Bobby Massie for a first down.

"I'm not going to lie to you, it was a tough situation," Martinez said of the play that should have given the Giants the ball back with just under four minutes to play and two of their timeouts. "To break it up and it goes straight to an offensive lineman, it's something you don't expect."

When was the last time the Giants shut out an opponent in the second half and lost?

You have to go back to Nov. 21, 2004, when they trailed the Falcons 14-0 at halftime and lost, 14-10. Of course, that game was more noteworthy for another reason. It was Eli Manning’s first NFL start.

The Giants are 0-2 again. Shouldn’t we be used to this by now?

It’s the seventh time in the last eight years that they have begun a season with two straight losses. The only time they weren’t was 2016 when they started 2-0 and went to the playoffs.

New York Sports