EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — New York Giants second-year wide receiver Kadarius Toney said he wasn’t disappointed to play just seven snaps in a 21-20 season-opening win at the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. His team won, and in the end it wasn’t his decision.
“I get paid to play, not to coach,” Toney said Wednesday. “I don’t know what the plan was. At the end of the day, I have to prepare like I’m going to go and make every play. I don’t know what else to say.”
Toney saw just two snaps in the first half. The dynamic playmaker has yet to be a bigger part of the game even after a rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson left in the second quarter with a knee injury.
“Disappointed to win? Disappointed to win?” he said rhetorically. “You sound crazy.”
How about surprised by the lack of playing time then?
“At the end of the day, I did my job,” Toney said. “I get paid to do one thing. Do my job bro.”
Coach Brian Daboll said Toney was part of several specific packages and plays; the Giants just didn’t get many of them in the win. Toney finished with two touchdowns — both on rushes in the second half — for 23 yards.
It showed his current standing in the wide reception room. James, not Toney, stepped into a bigger role when Robinson left the game, and he led the Giants with five receptions on six targets for 59 yards.
“We’ll see what happens this week,” Daboll said Monday. “The guys that were out there, we have confidence in. We have confidence in Kadarius. I think, again, I mentioned this a few weeks ago with our receiver position: It’s a competitive situation. And they’re going to be evaluated on a weekly basis. So, in terms of inactives or playing time or amount of play, everyone has to earn their part. One week it might be a full game, one week it might be less.
“But Kadarius did a good job of learning our stuff. I’m not worried about him knowing our information.”
It looks like Toney, a first-round pick last year out of Florida, needs to earn his playing time. He hasn’t been on the field much since the Giants’ new regime took over.
Toney had a knee procedure earlier this year that kept him out of the spring, and a hamstring problem in training camp cost him some time as well. It follows a rookie year that was full of all kinds of injuries and inconsistency. He has dealt with hamstring, ankle, shoulder, quad and abdomen injuries. He also had COVID-19 twice.
At one point last spring, Toney left practice because he was wearing the wrong cleats.
Toney had 39 catches for 420 yards in 10 games as a rookie. The Giants need to see that he is capable of being available and reliable before giving him a bigger role. Toney will have to show them that he deserves more playing time by working hard and being on the practice field.
“If that’s what’s required, that’s what I have to do,” he said. “Everybody knows I had the injury a few weeks ago, why I wasn’t on the field. So I guess it’s just [has to do] with that. I don’t know what to say.”
Toney, 23, says he’s physically fine at this point. He was a full participant in practice all last week. He moved well and without restrictions during Wednesday’s training.
Toney did not receive any major statements from the coaching staff regarding the lack of playing time on Sunday.
“Nothing. It’s more like we have another game. It’s bigger than one game,” Toney said. “We have a 17-game season. It’s always the mentality to push forward.”
Running back Saquon Barkley believes it will only be a matter of time before Toney makes greater contributions on the field; he is too talented not to.
“I talked to him,” said Barkley, team manager. “It wasn’t really pumping him up. It was about continuing to work. Continuing to follow the process … … He’s a very talented individual. I think you guys can see that when the rock is in his hands.
“As he continues to go, I think we’ll see him get involved a little bit more in the offense and make more plays for us.”