EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 04: Julian Love #20 of the New York Giants reacts in the first half of a game against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium on December 04, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Al Bello

Julian Love was given the day off from Giants practice on Wednesday, which he did not enjoy but which he understood. He also is given some plays off on special teams come game days, which he does not enjoy but which he understands.

Such is the balance the Giants have been striking between utilizing a key player for both the defense and special teams without running him into the ground.

“It’s a fine line,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said.

Love knows all about that.

“I’m a guy who is an I’d-rather-do-it kind of guy, and that’s kind of how I treat this game,” he told Newsday. “So it’s tough. But I have to look forward to the rest of the season.”

The rest of the season begins on Sunday against the once-beaten Eagles and their formidable passing attack, and Love is the starting free safety.

But he also is what McGaughey called “the quarterback of the punt team.” Net result: Love was in for more than 100 snaps against the Commanders last Sunday.

Sustaining that sort of workload is a challenge, even for a 24-year-old, and the coaches are doing their best to help.

“Last year, the last two years, he’s been a bell cow for us [on special teams],” McGaughey said. “He’s a core guy for us, and he’s really taken off as a defensive player. We’re extremely happy for him.

“But he’s also the quarterback of the punt team, and there are other positions that he’s really, really good at that we don’t have him do because, obviously, he’s our starting free safety.”

Love said he draws the line at being taken off the punt team, for which he calls signals and makes sure everyone knows whom he is supposed to block.

“That’s where I demand to be,” he said. “There’s no pulling me off of that.”

He said long snapper Casey Kreiter and punter Jamie Gillan help get him up to speed when he is forced to miss film study.

As a safety, he has two of the team’s four interceptions this season and must help pick up the slack for injured defensive backfield starters Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson.

Love said limiting snaps on special teams is “tough” because he knows special teams coaches often get “the short end of the stick” on player deployment.

“T-Mac was the first person that really believed in me in the building,” Love said. “He gave me a spot. I feel like I owe it to him to be out there and really lead this team.”

If taking Wednesdays off helps, Love is all for it.

“It’s weird because I’m a guy who likes to practice and get the looks I’m going to get in the game,” he said, “so it’s a mixture of that but also being smart and realizing this is a marathon. I can’t just burn out.”

Notes & quotes: Saquon Barkley practiced on a limited basis and is listed as questionable. “His neck’s a little sore,” Brian Daboll said. Does the coach think he will play Sunday? “I hope so.” . . . McKinney said he had pins removed from the middle three fingers of his left hand this week and intends to play again this season. He said he could play with a protective club on his hand if necessary . . . DT Leonard Williams (neck) is doubtful.

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