Over the past decade the Giants have had some of the most recognizable figures in the NFL playing wide receiver for them. From Plaxico Burress to Victor Cruz to Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, they were players who stood out on and off the field. They coupled production with personality.
Sunday night, against the Broncos, there will be none of that.
With season-ending injuries to Beckham, Marshall and Dwayne Harris, and an ankle injury to Sterling Shepard that will keep him from playing in at least this game, the Giants will roll with a group of wide outs who by themselves probably would not have the clout to get a decent seat on a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, nevermind a Miami party yacht with Trey Songz and a night out with Justin Bieber.
So who are these guys?
Two of them have played for the team in the past two years. Two of them were recently promoted from the practice squad. They have combined for 19 career receptions in the regular season. And none of them has ever had to fill the kind of role that the Giants will ask of them this week, as well as for the rest of the season.
“Just give us the best version of yourself,” Ben McAdoo said of his advice to the young and unproven wideouts. “They’ve gone out, they know what they’re doing on offense and on special teams. They have a great opportunity to go out and prove what they can do and that they belong in this league and they can play in this league. We have a lot of confidence in them. They just need to stay within themselves, trust the system and be the best version of themselves.”
Without further ado, meet your newest Giants receiving corps:
ROGER LEWIS JR.
No. 18 H/W: 6-0, 203
NFL experience: 18 games (2 starts)
College: Bowling Green
The second-year receiver may have some survivor’s guilt. Of the five receivers who played in last week’s game, he’s the only one who came out healthy. And now, all of a sudden, he is the most accomplished receiver the Giants have.
He’s the only one of the four who has been on the team all season. Normally he is used in special teams situations, but he has caught 15 passes – three for touchdowns -- since making the team out of the training camp last summer. He even scored a touchdown last week against the Chargers when Marshall and Shepard were out, making a nice grab on a long pass down the left sideline.
“It felt great, with the touchdown catch,” Lewis said of his most recent game. “But, it’s over with and I want to win. We lost that game and I want to get a win. I’m itching for a win right now.”
No. 12 H/W: 6-1, 192
NFL experience: 9 games (0 starts)
King was initially a fifth-round pick of the Broncos in 2013 and spent time with them, the Panthers, the Jaguars and the Bucs before signing with the Giants. He made his NFL debut with the Bucs in 2014 and caught two passes in two games. You likely remember him as the only Giants receiver to catch a TD pass from Eli Manning in the playoff loss to the Packers in January. He had three catches for a team-high 73 yards in that game. It was his first career touchdown.
King had a strong start to training camp for the Giants this summer but an ankle injury derailed him a bit. He made the team out of preseason but was inactive for the first game and then released on the eve of the second. He was brought back this week.
King knows the offense, but he still needed some help with directions around the facility. The team moved him from his previous locker of just a few weeks ago, and he said he keeps going back to the old one by accident. He was also waiting for his nameplate to be put above his new locker room residence. He joked that the delay stems from him wanting it to say “Swag Daddy” instead of his actual name.
No. 19 H/W: 6-0, 190
NFL experience: None
College: Florida State
Rudolph led the Giants in receptions (9) and receiving yards (157) in the four preseason games, including three catches for 87 yards with a 57-yard catch and run against the Jets, but did not make the team out of camp. Instead he was signed to the practice squad. Now, he gets to make his NFL debut.
“You’ve just got to make the best of the opportunity presenting itself,” he said. “I’m ready for it. I’ve been working on my craft every week, so I’m ready.” He said he is “definitely confident” he can help the team.
Rudolph became a viral sensation last summer when, as a player for Florida State, he sat with an autistic boy during his lunchtime while visiting a nearby middle school with his teammates. The boy’s mother posted the video and it spread over the internet and even made its way into the national news.
That’s not why the Giants signed him as an undrafted free agent, though. It was because of his 153 career receptions for 2,311 yards (15.1-yard avg.) and 18 touchdowns in three seasons with the Seminoles. He was named second-team All-ACC after his sophomore and junior seasons.
No. 84 H/W: 5-10, 193
NFL experience: none
College: Northwestern State
Eagan grew up in New Orleans and was actually a childhood friend of Beckham’s. Now he’s trying to help replace him.
He was originally signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and spent time on the practice squads in Cleveland and Buffalo last year. He was brought on late in Giants training camp this summer – when a rash of injuries to Beckham and Marshall required more bodies, ironically – and cut after the preseason. He returned to the Giants’ practice squad a few weeks ago.
At Northwestern State in Louisiana he set school records for receptions (177), receiving yardage (2,228), all-purpose yardage (5,651) and kickoff return yardage (2,922). He was the 2014 College Sporting News FCS Special Teams Player of the Year, and will likely handle some return jobs in place of Harris.
“Like I read the other day, one man’s crisis is another man’s opportunity,” he said. “I feel bad for all of the injuries. Then again, in this business, you got to just move on. You got to step up to the plate.”