Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay catches a pass during training...

Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay catches a pass during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Monday. Credit: Brad Penner

Wide receivers love to be targeted with passes.

Being targeted with frustration, ridicule, blame, anger and all of the other negative feelings Giants fans likely have felt and often expressed toward Kenny Golladay? That’s certainly not as fun.

For most of the past year and a half, though, that’s been Golladay’s role on the team, deservedly so or not. He was brought here to score, but in lieu of that he’s elicited little but scorn.

There’s really just one way for Golladay to change the perception of himself as the personification of all that was wrong with the previous regime that gave him a $72 million contract that sits like a yoke on the franchise’s current financial situation, or as the root of everything dysfunctional with the sputtering offense the Giants have played since he arrived as a free agent last offseason.

He has to become something closer to the player he was with the Lions, the one who was among the NFL’s leaders in touchdowns and yards per reception during his early career, and distance himself from the unproductive player and signing bust he is teetering on becoming forever known as.

“I definitely would say I have a lot to prove, not just to everybody else but also myself,” Golladay said on Tuesday.

Coming off a season in which he caught only 37 passes for 521 yards and zero touchdowns, Golladay has often declined to discuss 2021. He said Tuesday he sees this season with its new offensive system and new coaching staff as a “clean slate.”

Already he has sullied that pristine surface, however, with a number of plays this summer that have done little to dispel the idea that 2022 will be different. Whether it was dropping a pass from Daniel Jones near the goal line in last week’s preseason opener, visibly struggling to connect with Jones on the fades and jump balls that he and his 6-4 frame should be dominating on, or going through two full practices as he did on Sunday and Monday without making a single reception in team drills, the evidence of a rejuvenated Golladay is hard to find.

About the only positive thing that can be said of Golladay this summer is he has been healthy and practiced just about every day. That’s very different from last training camp, even if it has yet to show up in the football production.

Even Golladay is starting to show signs of frustration. On Tuesday he had the ball come in his direction on the first two plays of the team period. The first one was knocked away by cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. The second one he caught down near his own legs only to have Jackson poke it away. Golladay picked up the loose football and flung it down the field.

“I was [upset],” Golladay said. “I went down and grabbed it and Adoree’ just came in and made a play. Yeah, I was [upset]. It would have been a big completion for us.”

Golladay would rebound later in the practice with two catches from Jones, including one for a touchdown in a goal-line period, ending his streak of being shut out.

The Giants remain optimistic that things will turn around for Golladay more consistently.

“I think he’s acclimated himself well in terms of what we’re doing,” coach Brian Daboll said. “I’ve been pleased with how he’s handled himself. He’s been a pro, and he’s competing every day.”

As for whether Golladay fits into the Giants’ new offense that relies more on shifty targets who can dodge coverages rather than big-bodied ones like him who create little separation, Daboll said: “All receivers, they’re different. It’s just a matter of when you have an opportunity to go out there and make plays — and he has made some of them — that you go ahead and make them.”

Until he does, Golladay will remain the public pariah of the Giants.

Asked if Giants fans have seen the best of him at any point, Golladay said there have been glimpses such as his performance in the Saints game last season when he caught six passes for 116 yards. For the most part, though, he conceded he has given the fan base little to like about his game so far.

“New coaches, new offense, I think everybody is coming into this season with a little chip on their shoulder,” Golladay said. “Everybody wants to come in with an edge just to meet expectations.”

The ones for Golladay have always been exceedingly high here, perhaps even unfairly high.

If he can just manage to get even a bit closer to reaching them, though, it may be enough to extinguish the vitriol and flak that has come his way from the fans, catching more of both so far as a Giant than he has footballs.

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