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Giants Q&A: How did Graham Gano fare in return from COVID-19?

Graham Gano #5 of the Giants kicks a

Graham Gano #5 of the Giants kicks a 49-yard field goal during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Sabau

How did Graham Gano play after spending most of the past two weeks on the reserve/COVID-19 list?

As special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said after the veteran kicker was able to work a little on the side late this past week, he was "out there being Graham." He connected on all four of his field-goal attempts and hit his extra point, all critical to the Giants’ 19-17 win over the Bengals on Sunday.

"My first reps with the team since the Eagles game [Nov. 15] were today, so that was a bit different," Gano said. "I shook a little rust off in the beginning, but once we got that first PAT out of the way, it felt good." 

How did Gano spend his time in quarantine?

He said it was "terrible." Early on, he had a high fever and other symptoms, but after that passed, the biggest challenge was fighting boredom. It’s one of the reasons he managed to smuggle a kicking net into his hotel room and get some practice in while being isolated.

"I just wanted to make sure I was getting some reps in somehow," he said of the unorthodox workouts (which he posted to social media). "I was able to get that done and not make any neighbors mad, so it all went well."  

What happened on the Bengals’ 103-yard kickoff return in the first quarter?

A very uncharacteristic coverage breakdown for the Giants, one that Joe Judge said needs to be fixed for the Giants to be able to compete in the next five games (he also was miffed about the Bengals’ 29-yard punt return at the end of the game).

As for why Brandon Wilson was able to take the first-quarter kickoff to the house, there were a number of reasons, but Gano said it was mostly on him.

"That was all my fault," he said of kicking the ball down the middle of the field rather than to either side.

Gano also was the only player who had a legitimate chance at tackling Wilson.

"All around, you can put that on me,’’ he said. "I have to have a better kick and I have to make the play when it comes to me to tackle the guy."  

How did the offensive line look in its first game under the tutelage of Dave DeGuglielmo?

There were three penalties against the group (plus another one that was declined), but if you assume that is not something the new offensive line coach is trying to implement, they did pretty well. In a game in which they needed to grind out yards with the starting QB on the sideline for most of the second half, the Giants rushed for 142 yards on 42 carries and did not allow a sack. "I’m proud of the way those guys worked," Judge said. "They did a nice job." 

Who is Niko Lalos?

You’re forgiven if you were unaware of the rookie defensive end from Dartmouth who made his NFL debut Sunday and was in the middle of two key plays: an interception and a tackle that led to a forced fumble that was recovered by Logan Ryan.

He was elevated from the practice squad for this game. Of course, the Giants know all about him. "To be honest with you, we were not surprised he was around the ball," Judge said. "We see that every day in practice."

Anyone else know much about him?

LeBron James, apparently. He tweeted a pregame shout-out to Lalos, who, like James, attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.

Any other injuries the Giants could be concerned with besides Daniel Jones’ hamstring?

Special teams captain Nate Ebner left the game early in the first quarter with a knee injury and linebacker Kyler Fackrell left in the second half with a calf injury.

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