A number of New York Giants players will be looking to redeem themselves in 2020 after experiencing injury-plagued seasons in 2019.
Surely there were a number of reasons as to why the New York Giants succumbed to double-digit defeats for the third consecutive season last year. Poor coaching, questionable playcalling, below-average front office moves…you name it. But you can’t rule out the fact that Big Blue’s roster caught the injury bug. A multitude of players missed time throughout the year, citing numerous health-related issues.
And out of all the players who dealt with injury-plagued 2019 campaigns, there are seven who’ll certainly need to redeem themselves if Big Blue plans to return to the postseason in 2020.
This one’s self-explanatory, despite the fact that he managed to only miss a trio of games after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 3. Saquon Barkley indeed returned to the field sooner than expected, but his pain was evident throughout much of the year. He really couldn’t rediscover his 2018 form until the Week 15 win over the Dolphins, a game in which he racked up 112 yards on the ground with a pair of scores.
He was additionally productive in the Giants’ Week 16 win over Washington along with their Week 17 loss to Philly. Barkley gained 279 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns in the former matchup. Against the Eagles, he racked up 92 yards on the ground with one score.
Nonetheless, it was definitely a down year for the star running back. Surely this will motivate him to redeem himself in a big way in 2020.
Yes, also self-explanatory. Tight end Evan Engram couldn’t separate himself from his injury-related issues in 2019, having missed a career-high eight games. Engram missed five matchups the year prior after sitting out just one game during his very promising 2017 rookie campaign. In total, he missed 14 games through the first three years of his NFL career — nearly an entire regular season.
As a result, some Giants fans have grown impatient with the team’s former first-round selection. New York decided to exercise his fifth-year option in April, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in his fourth season later this year.
Engram needs to stay out of the medical tent, plain and simple. The fans’ impatience is warranted, and will only grow if the health concerns do as well.
For the second time in his four-year career, wideout Sterling Shepard underwent an injury-filled campaign. After taking part in 11 games during the 2017 season, Shepard entered the concussion protocol multiple times in 2019, leading to six missed matchups throughout the year.
It additionally came at a very bad time. The Giants just signed Shepard to a four-year extension prior to the 2019 season.
Among what’s mainly a young offensive group, Shepard needs to be a reliable target for Daniel Jones and one that serves as a great complement to both Golden Tate and Darius Slayton. In order to do that, he’ll need to remain healthy, or else the Giants receiving corps will be that much easier to gameplan against.
Just to reiterate how valuable Shepard is to this offense — the 27-year-old receiver still led the team in receptions (57) in 2019 despite missing a significant amount of time.
For the most part, wide receiver Corey Coleman has experienced a notably disappointing career. After the Browns selected him with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2016 draft, the former Baylor standout has been a part of four different NFL organizations.
He seemed to have found a home in East Rutherford in 2018 though. After signing to the Giants practice squad in October of that year, Coleman soon found himself on the active roster and went on to return 23 kicks for 598 yards (26.0 yards per return). The Giants then tendered him in March 2019.
But a torn ACL suffered on the first day of training camp last summer ended Coleman’s 2019 season before it really even commenced. Some thought that could’ve been the end of his tenure in blue, but New York decided to re-sign him to a one-year deal this past March.
Coleman will be looking to prove himself as both the team’s kick returner and one of the reserve wideouts. He’ll be a part of a tight competition when it comes to the former position and will likely go up against cornerback Corey Ballentine and undrafted rookie running back Javon Leake.
The Giants traded for safety Jabrill Peppers in March of last year, having dealt star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns for the former Michigan Wolverine and a pair of draft picks.
Through the first 10 games of 2019, Peppers proved to be a versatile athlete in the team’s defensive backfield. He possessed the ability to play up near the line of scrimmage and came away with 71 combined tackles (47 solo). But during game No. 11 — the Week 12 loss to Chicago — Peppers suffered what would be a transverse process fracture, a setback that effectively ended his inaugural campaign in East Rutherford.
Julian Love was his replacement, and while the then-first-year player out of Notre Dame showed promise, he didn’t portray the talent nor versatility that Peppers carries.
The Giants having Peppers return to the starting lineup will be crucial in 2020, especially when you consider the moves made to the secondary this offseason. Peppers will need to be a mentor to safety Xavier McKinney, who the Giants chose in this year’s second round.
Peppers and McKinney could be an extremely productive safety tandem as early as this upcoming season. Jabrill returning as healthy as possible will be important in regards to that.
The Giants selected Ryan Connelly in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, and the former Wisconsin linebacker made an early impact. Through the first four games, Connelly recorded 20 combined tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and two pass breakups. He unfortunately suffered a torn ACL in that Week 4 matchup though, an injury that ended his rookie campaign when it was just getting started.
If Connelly is able to stay healthy in 2020, he could find that on-field success once again and become an intriguing option within this linebacking corps. I’m not entirely sure he’ll start, since the Giants may possibly reward David Mayo with the starting inside linebacker job alongside Blake Martinez. Connelly could enter the game on passing downs and also provide much assistance on special teams though, which would go a long way when it comes to impressing this coaching staff.
This upcoming season needs to be the year cornerback Sam Beal finally stays healthy. If it isn’t, there’s a chance the Giants could part ways with him at some point.
After being selected in the 2018 supplemental draft, Beal has played in just six games out of a possible 32. He missed his entire rookie season due to a shoulder injury and experienced another injured reserve stint last year after suffering a hamstring setback prior to the regular season.
Beal won’t start at one of the two main corner spots, but he could certainly compete to be the team’s starting slot corner.
At the end of the day, Beal will need to provide some sort of value to this defense, or his days in East Rutherford may be numbered.