EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — 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 ultimately it wasn’t his decision.
“I get paid to play, not coach,” Toney said Wednesday. “I don’t know what the plan was. At the end of the day, I have to prepare as if I was going and playing every play. I don’t know what else to say.”
Toney saw just two snaps in the first half. The dynamic playmaker still wasn’t a bigger part of the game even after rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson left in the second quarter with a knee injury.
But Toney took the lack of playing time Sunday behind Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Robinson, David Sills and even Richie James in stride.
“Disappointed in victory? Disappointed in a victory?” 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 has said that Toney was part of several specific packages and plays; the Giants just didn’t get to many of them in the victory. Toney finished with two touches — both on rushes in the second half — for 23 yards.
It made his current standing in the wide receiver room apparent. 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’ve mentioned this before a couple of weeks ago with our receiver position: It’s a competitive situation. And they’ll be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. So, relative to inactives or playtime or amount of plays, everybody’s got to earn their role. One week it might be a whole game; one week it might be less.
“But Kadarius has done a good job of learning our stuff. I have no concerns about him knowing our information.”
It appears Toney, a first-round pick last year out of Florida, has to earn his playing time. He has not been on the field much since the Giants’ new regime took command.
Toney had a knee procedure earlier this year that kept him out in the spring, and a hamstring problem in training camp cost him some time, as well. It follows a rookie year that was riddled with all kinds of injuries and inconsistency. He 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-sized cleats.
Toney had 39 catches for 420 yards in 10 games as a rookie. The Giants need to see that he’s capable of being available and trustworthy before handing him a bigger role. Toney will need to show them he deserves more playing time by working hard and being on the practice field.
“If that is required, that is what I have to do,” he said. “Everybody knows I had the injury a couple weeks ago why I wasn’t on the field. So I guess it just [has to do] with that. I don’t know what to say.”
Toney, 23, says he’s fine physically at this point. He was a full participant in practice all of last week. He was moving well and without any limitations during Wednesday’s workout.
Toney hasn’t received any major declarations from the coaching staff regarding the lack of playing time Sunday.
“Nothing. It’s more of just 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 be only a matter of time before Toney is making bigger contributions on the field; he’s too talented not to.
“I talked to him,” said Barkley, a team captain. “It wasn’t really to pump him up. It was all about continuing to work. Continuing to follow up 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 be involved a little more in the offense and making more plays for us.”