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Kadarius Toney (shoe) off and running at Giants camp

New York Giants first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney

New York Giants first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney works out with one shoe off during NFL football rookie minicamp, Friday, May 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP/Bill Kostroun

First-round picks generally stand out at NFL rookie minicamps. Usually it’s because of their speed or agility or strength, the very assets that led to their being so coveted by their teams. And with no established veterans from the squad around, all eyes are usually on that jewel of the class.

Kadarius Toney was no different in his first on-field appearance with the Giants on Friday, but the reason for the spotlight on him was rather unique.

The wide receiver went through a number of drills early in the workout … barefoot. At least on one side.

He had issues with the cleats he was wearing when the workout began, so much so that he shed the right shoe. Right in the middle of a drill. The amazing part was that he kept going, high-stepping through the ladder and working on some other skills with nothing between the flesh on his right foot and the grass of the field.

Just call him Shoeless To-ney.

He said the size of the shoe was the issue and chuckled when asked if he’d ever done football drills sans shoes in the past. Joe Judge, though, found less humor in the situation.

"We have to get that straightened out and make sure our guys hit the field with equipment they are comfortable with," he said. "We’ll handle that and make sure it’s not an issue moving forward."

The mishap did serve one purpose. If the Giants questioned how much Toney wants to play football, what he’ll overcome to be part of even some simple drills, they found it out very early in his tenure with them.

"That’s just me," he said. "That’s a dog mentality."

Staffers hustled between the field and the equipment room like salesmen at a Thom McAn, shuttling various options for Toney to try out before he finally settled on a pair of white shoes with white socks about two-thirds of the way through the practice. Because the cleat was a lingering issue for most of the workout, the defining skill Toney brings to the Giants was never quite on full display. His quickness and speed were mitigated. Even at the end of practice, Toney was on the side stretching while the rest of the team went through conditioning (Toney called it "the safer route to go" and not an injury-related exemption).

The Giants will have to wait at least another day to see Toney flash. Probably longer. With only 22 players on the field (outnumbered by the 25 coaches), the minicamp was more about orientation than football.

"This is all very new for these guys in terms of walking around the building," Judge said. "These guys have as much on their plate in terms of finding out where their locker is and where to eat in the cafeteria, where they shower, as they do getting out there, where they stretch ... It’s a learning experience for these guys."

The first lesson for the first-round pick? Getting the right sized cleats.

Notes & quotes: Toney wasn’t the only wide receiver who was a first-round pick by Dave Gettleman at the rookie minicamp. Kelvin Benjamin, selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2014 draft, attended as a tryout. He has not played in the NFL since 2018 and is listed as a 6-5, 245-pound tight end. "He’s a big guy, has always been a big receiver," Judge said. "He’ll work receiver, he’s working a little bit flex as well. I wouldn’t pin him down to any one position. At this point we’ll use the weekend to kind of move him around to different spots and see how it works out" … Running back Corey Clement, who received the snap in the "Philly Special" Super Bowl play for the Eagles (which Judge, then an assistant for the Patriots, undoubtedly remembers well), was also at the minicamp as a veteran tryout along with fellow running back Ito Smith … Sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams was sidelined most of the workout and appeared to be dealing with cramps.

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