Kadarius Toney made a leaping, jaw-dropping touchdown catch at Wednesday’s first practice of Giants training camp that could help reset the tone of a tumultuous offseason.
Toney, 23, the Giants’ 20th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, reached his left hand high and balanced his body to skillfully haul in a fade pass by Daniel Jones along the right end zone sideline with corner Aaron Robinson in coverage.
Having the second-year receiver on the field with Jones’ first-team offense was a plus in itself. Toney underwent a minor arthroscopic knee surgery in the spring that sidelined him through June.
But it was a bonus to see Jones complete his first pass to Toney on a comeback route against Adoree Jackson, to watch Toney finish that play through contact, and to witness his highlight-reel TD catch.
Head coach Brian Daboll ran all the way into the end zone to join the celebration.
“I thought it was a heck of a catch to go up and get that ball,” Jones said. “That’s what [Toney] can do. As an athlete, he brings that element to our offense. So we’ll keep working and trying to utilize what he does well.”
Three months ago, Toney’s Giants future was in doubt. He didn’t show up for the start of Daboll’s offseason program, and the Giants made calls looking to trade a player who had been high maintenance to that point.
But then Toney reported to East Rutherford, rehabbed, and got himself ready to put his best foot forward on day one of camp.
That is big for Jones, too, because first-year GM Joe Schoen said “continuity is important” in the Giants’ evaluation of the fourth-year QB. Jones needs Toney and Kenny Golladay, among others, on the field like they were Wednesday.
“To have him out there with some of the guys that weren’t out there in the spring is important,” Schoen said.
Jones is under pressure to perform now. In a morning press conference, Schoen appeared to keep his expectations for the QB intentionally vague and steered clear of any effusive praise.
The GM said “Daniel’s still got a lot to learn from a scheme standpoint” and brought up backup QB Tyrod Taylor when asked about Jones.
“Coming out and executing the offense is what we’re looking to do,” Schoen said. “You know, getting better each day. And that goes for the entire position group: Tyrod [Taylor] and Davis Webb, as well.”
Continuity of personnel will help clarify exactly where the Giants’ evaluation of Jones lands. But the Giants need to get the QB position right to turn their franchise around.
The fan bleachers were noticeably empty on Wednesday, despite this being the first open Giants training camp since 2019.
Toney unfortunately was not made available to the media, despite being requested after making the play of the day. The Giants said he will speak to the media on Friday. He has not done an interview with the local media since Nov. 10, 2021.
It was good to see Daboll put his players through a fairly strenuous first practice, though, after a light spring that ended with a dramatically dialed-back June minicamp.
“We need practice and we need to compete,” said Daboll, who already is sounding a more authoritative and realistic tone than he did this spring. “You really find out what kind of team you are when you start fighting through adversity and a loss or a bad thing happens.
“We’re going to try to be as consistent as we can as a leadership group,” he added. “Have high energy, be positive, but also be real about where we’re at and what we need to fix.”
PRACTICE REPORT: DAY ONE
Daboll ran several competitive red zone periods. The defense had dominated the offense there in their only hard practice of June’s minicamp. On Wednesday, Jones’ first-team offense was just so-so. After the TD pass to Toney, Darnay Holmes intercepted Jones underneath by jumping a pass intended for Saquon Barkley. Jones responded by hitting second-round rookie Wan’Dale Robinson for a TD. Golladay also dropped a TD pass on a jump ball toward the left sideline. Barkley, who scored on another Jones pass, fumbled after a catch over the middle. Jihad Ward and Blake Martinez ripped the ball out… Martinez (ACL) was mostly limited from 11-on-11, with rookie sixth-round pick Darrian Beavers lining up in his place next to Tae Crowder. Encouragingly, starting left tackle Andrew Thomas was a full go after a January left ankle surgery had limited him in the spring. Thomas admitted he’ll have to wait until the team puts on pads next Monday to “test my anchor” but said he feels good. Rookie No. 5 overall pick edge Kayvon Thibodeaux also was a full participant… Punter Jamie Gillan struggled some. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants bring in competition there… The Giants signed OT Garrett McGhin from the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and waived OT Kamaal Seymour.
THE DEPTH CHART
The first-team offense primarily featured Jones, Barkley, Robinson, Golladay, Toney and rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list. The first offensive line included left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Shane Lemieux, center Jon Feliciano, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Evan Neal.
Veteran TE Ricky Seals-Jones saw spotty work with the first team. And when the first offense split off from the second and third units to do drill work, the other skill players to rotate with the first team were RBs Matt Breida and Antonio Williams and WRs Darius Slayton and David Sills. Sills switched to No. 13, Odell Beckham’s old number, with newcomer Marcus Kemp in 84.
The Giants’ second-string O-line protecting Taylor included LT Devery Hamilton, LG Josh Ezuedu, C Jamil Douglas, RG Marcus McKethan and RT Matt Gono. The third stringers were LT Roy Mbaeteka, LG Josh Rivas, C Ben Bredeson, RG Max Garcia and McKethan.
The first-team defense had FS Xavier McKinney, SS Julian Love, outside corners Jackson and Robinson, Holmes at slot corner, Crowder and Beavers at LB, and Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Ward on the D line.