The Giants have a fairly long tradition of unheralded wide receivers earning roster spots on the back of preseason performances. It happened for Victor Cruz, it happened for Corey Washington. And now it may be happening for Tavarres King.
The 2013 draft pick who has played just two NFL games and spent most of his career on various practice squads — including the Giants’ last season — caught a pair of touchdown passes in Saturday’s 21-20 win over the Jets. In a field of young receivers who have been flashing on the practice field all summer for the Giants, King was the first to transfer that level of play to the games.
“It’s extremely important,” King said of proving he can play against opponents rather than teammates. “These are things that matter, right? For me to get an opportunity, for the coaches to believe in me, Ryan [Nassib], my teammates, to believe in me to give me the opportunity to make a play like that, it’s tremendous. It means a lot.”
While the top of the receiver depth chart is pretty well set with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, rookie Sterling Shepard — and special teams ace Dwayne Harris fitting in somewhere — there is a group of others fighting for the final roster spots at the position. Myles White, second-year receiver Geremy Davis, and undrafted rookies Darius Powe and Roger Lewis have all flashed at times during training camp. King, though, has shown a good chemistry with Nassib all summer long and finally got to show it to a broader audience.
“He had a gritty performance,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “He’s a guy that hung in there, had a nice double move. Actually both of his scores were double moves. He held on to the ball on the reverse (for a 20-yard gain) and took a pretty good shot. Again, it’s what he’s been showing us this offseason and what he’s been showing us so far in camp. He came out, had an opportunity to execute and make plays and he did just that.”
King, who had not scored a touchdown since college despite 14 previous preseason games and the two regular-season ones, said it was “indescribable” to catch not just one but two on Saturday.
“I kind of didn’t know what to do when I got in the end zone,” he said. “I was excited. Excited for my team, excited we got some points on the board, and excited we got a good team win. It was awesome.”
With less than a week until final cuts, was it enough to keep King on the Giants’ 53-man roster?
“That’s not up to me to decide,” he said. “I’m going to continue to be me. I’m going to continue to be Tavarres and I’m going to continue to be someone that’s hungry — not only to be on this team but to bring this team a championship.”