The Giants may be without two key players Sunday as they search for their first win of the season against the Washington Football Team.
Wide receiver Darius Slayton (knee) and defensive end Dexter Lawrence (foot) were listed as questionable following Friday’s practice, as was defensive back Adrian Colbert (shoulder). Slayton and Lawrence have practiced on a limited basis all week, while Colbert participated in full on Friday.
“I’m expecting Darius to play,” head coach Joe Judge said on a Zoom call Friday prior to practice. “If the trainers tell me otherwise, they tell me otherwise.”
Kyler Fackrell (ankle) and Jabrill Peppers (ankle) were cleared to play after practicing on a limited basis all week.
If Slayton is unable to play Sunday, the Giants will take the field without their top three offensive weapons. Star running back Saquon Barkley is out for the season following an ACL tear and wide receiver Sterling Shepard has been sidelined since Week 2 with a turf toe injury, so the Giants will have to rely on receivers Golden Tate, Austin Mack and C.J Board to carry the offensive production.
“I’ve just seen he’s been working tirelessly,” Judge said of Shepard. “He’s made a lot of progress in terms of from where he was when he got hurt in Chicago to physically where he is now right there. … He’s obviously anxious to get back out on the grass. We want to see him back out there as soon as possible. But we just need to make sure we make the right decisions for him long-term medically.”
As the pouring rain came down in East Rutherford on Friday, Judge saw an opportunity.
“When you go on wet grass, you really emphasize your players playing with their feet under them, ball security as ball handlers, quarterbacks and receivers making sure we’re sharp on that,” he said on a Zoom call prior to practice. “Defensive players make sure we really get our cleats in the ground, we don’t slip and slide all over the place. Just in general, any chance you get the opportunity to work in weather, you have to use it, use it to your advantage.
“Whether it’s wind, snow, rain, hard sun, whatever it may be, you may not get this opportunity again. The next time we see rain may be in a game on Sunday. So, we always use every situation we have to prepare ourselves.”
The current weather report may say there’s a zero percent chance of precipitation when the Giants host the Washington Football Team Sunday, but that didn’t deter Judge from insisting that his team “work on fundamentals” that come with competing in the heavy rain.
“It’s our responsibility as coaches and players to go out there and prepare for practice,” Judge explained. “That includes warming up our bodies correctly. It means playing with our feet under us.”It means having the right equipment on, so the right cleats to match the weather conditions and the grass and the surface that we’re on right there.
“Look, it’s football. We’re going to go outside, whatever it is, and we’re going to use all of the elements to our advantage every time we can.”