It’s hard to call what the Giants did on the field Tuesday a practice. The team went through a few drills, stretched for a bit, then broke up into several groups. The younger players who have not been getting many snaps in games or workouts so far this season stuck around to pick up a few of those reps while most of the team — the ones who have been playing and spent a good deal of time facing the Raiders on Sunday — went in separate directions to work with trainers and receive treatment.
"Joe [Judge] does a great job of adjusting throughout the year on what the team needs," safety Logan Ryan said of the bye week schedule that was clearly focused more on physical rehabilitation than any kind of schematic alterations the coaching staff has found to correct.
"Obviously," Ryan added, "the team needs to get healthy."
That is priority number one for the Giants in the coming days, and if they are successful at it, it may be the biggest reason for a change of course in the second half of the season. They’ve weathered their first nine games with a 3-6 record playing mostly without their best linebacker, best two offensive linemen, best running back, and many of their best wide receivers.
If they can get some of those pieces back and playing at a high level upon their return to action Nov. 22 and beyond?
"There’s been flashes of the offense in previous weeks with everybody healthy," tight end Evan Engram said with a nod to some early season games. "We definitely are going to be explosive…I just know those guys are trying to get back as fast as possible and we’ll be ready when they do."
The offense in particular has been hit by injuries, but on Tuesday, during the "practice," running back Saquon Barkley was running on the side and left tackle Andrew Thomas was working on some mobility drills. More important than those who have missed games, perhaps, is the ability of players who have been playing through injuries to heal up. Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney have not been at full strength for most of the season.
"That’s what we can control right now," Ryan said. "We can control getting healthy, resting, cleaning up some things, watching film. But for sure, we need to get some guys back, have a strong push. We need to continue playing some good ball on defense and get some of our playmakers back on offense and put it all together."
They might be a dangerous team if they can do so, especially as the law of averages starts to spread injuries throughout the rest of the league instead of focusing them in East Rutherford as it feels like has been the case for the past two months.
Even with all of that bad news, the Giants have at least been able to stay within reach of contention for the postseason berth they covet. They have won two of their last three and have some very winnable games on the back end of their schedule.
"A lot of guys around here this year are from last year and kind of leaning on some of that experience," Daniel Jones said of the 2020 team that started 1-7 yet hung around the division race until the very last downs of the season.
The more players they get back from injury, the more realistic that scenario becomes.
"Ideally, you want your playmakers on the field," Ryan said. "It gives us the best chance to win when your star players are on the field. That’s what they get paid to do. That will give us a better chance to win without a doubt."
The Giants don’t face an opponent this week, but if they can come out of their bye with some of those players back to being healthy contributors to the team, it may wind up being one of their biggest victories of the season.