Earlier this year Daniel Jones summed up both his and the organization’s feelings regarding wide receiver Kadarius Toney in just three little words.
“We need him,” Jones said.
This summer they may, for the first time since using a first-round pick on him 15 months ago, actually get him.
After a rookie season that was derailed by injuries and a first training camp spent mostly rehabbing assorted ailments, Toney spent this spring’s offseason program entirely in a red non-participation jersey while he rehabbed further. It was enough to have many considering whether the twitchy, slender receiver has the physicality to last in the NFL and if he is already teetering on being a bust.
But Toney finally seems ready to join the Giants as something close to a full participant of the offense this summer. The players reported for training camp on Tuesday and underwent physicals and conditioning tests and, a source told Newsday, Toney is on track to join the squad on the field for the first preseason practice on Wednesday morning.
It may not seem like a big accomplishment, but given Toney’s career has thus far been defined more by his absences than his accomplishments, it’s a pretty significant step for him and the team.
“I think it's huge to have him,” Jones said back in June. “I think in the times he was out there last year you saw what he can do, how special he can be with the ball in his hands. I think that adds a lot to our offense to have him out there.”
Jones and Toney hardly had a chance to develop any chemistry last year. They connected for just 29 completions in 2021 and no touchdowns. Their best game together was the Week 4 win over the Saints in which Toney caught six of Jones’ passes for 78 yards. The following week in Dallas, Jones left with a concussion (Toney had 10 catches for 189 yards in that game, including 4 for 80 before Jones left). Toney was banged up with an ankle injury late in that game himself, and was never as explosive in the parts of five other games he wound up playing. After providing a tantalizing glimpse of what they might be able to do together, Jones and Toney connected for just 15 completions for 111 yards after that Week 5 loss in Dallas.
All of that will be forgotten if Toney is and can remain healthy in 2022. This could be the season when the Giants get their first actual look at what Toney can provide should that be the case.
“He can be a special player,” Jones said. “I think once he can get on the field we'll be able to see that.”
Perhaps that time is here.
NOTES & QUOTES: The Giants put three veterans on PUP for the start of camp: WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles), OL Nick Gates (leg) and OL Matt Peart (knee). They join TE Daniel Bellinger, the fourth-round pick, who was placed on PUP with a quad injury when rookies reported to camp last week … LB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) was placed on the non-football injury list. He and the players on PUP remain on the 90-man roster and can be activated at any point in the preseason … The Giants signed four new players as camp began, including safety Andrew Adams who played for the team in 2016 and 2017. The Giants also signed DE Nick Williams, OL Kamaal Seymour and WR Marcus Kemp as last-minute additions to the preseason pool. To make room for the new players they waived DB Henry Black, DT Jabari Ellis, WR Travis Toivonen and DB Maurice Canady.