The Giants saw enough from Jaylon Smith in his very brief audition to offer him the role.
Smith, a 26-year-old former Pro Bowl linebacker for the Cowboys, was signed to the Giants’ practice squad on Friday, participated in a walk-through workout Saturday and played 17 defensive snaps and made four tackles against Dallas on Sunday.
On Monday, he was signed to the active roster.
"[Smith] had about four to six hours of coaching to get him ready for the game," Joe Judge said Monday. "I really liked the way this guy responded and he’s been a pleasure to coach in the short window we’ve had. He went out there, he played fast, he’s able to go ahead and get his hat on a few people to make some plays."
Smith certainly was active, and after many plays, he would alternate between catching up with former Cowboys teammates and posing in front of their sideline as if to let them know what they were missing. The Cowboys released him in October after he slid down their depth chart.
"He was excited," said safety Julian Love, who added that he has seen Smith as a "big brother" and "mentor" since both played at Notre Dame. "He’s a guy who plays with a lot of passion, and I mean, what better game [to make your Giants debut] than to go up against your old team? So yeah, he was fired up."
The Giants will try to harness that for their final three games and possibly beyond.
"I liked the temperament he plays with, I like the look in his eyes when you meet with him in terms of being locked in and engaged to what’s going on in the meetings," Judge said. "He’s been a pleasure to have in the program so far."
Notes & quotes: The Giants placed WR Sterling Shepard on season-ending injured reserve Monday with a left Achilles tear he suffered Sunday . . . Besides Smith, the Giants signed CB Jarren Williams to their active roster from the practice squad. Williams started at cornerback Sunday with Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson on COVID reserve . . . CB Keion Crossen was added to COVID reserve, bringing the total to nine players currently with the designation. WR Kadarius Toney will time out of the protocols in the middle of this week. "We’ll see how that set him back and give him the opportunity to go out there, move around and see if he can help us this week or not," Judge said of the first-round draft pick, who had missed three previous games with quadriceps and oblique injuries. Judge said that under the new NFL protocols, there could be others who test out of COVID reserve before Sunday’s game against the Eagles.