kadarius toney giants
Syndication: The Record

The rookie wide receiver hardly produced Sunday after not playing in any of the Giants’ three preseason matchups.

We know Kadarius Toney is with his team; it’s not like he’s gone completely rogue on the Giants, who drafted him at No. 20 overall back in April.

But it’s safe to say the rookie wide receiver has undergone a bizarre start to his NFL career, and it continued that way Sunday against the Broncos.

It all started with the cleat issue — Toney apparently had the wrong size cleat during his inaugural rookie minicamp practice back in May and spent much of that workout wearing just one of them.

He subsequently missed time during offseason workouts due to the delayed signing of his rookie contract.

Then fast forward to July and August: Toney experienced a stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, underwent a lengthy ramp-up period, and additionally missed all three preseason games due to a hamstring injury that was initially a vague situation.

An underwhelming couple of months, to say the least. However, there was still optimism heading into the regular season…

Essentially a no-show against Denver

The expectation was that Toney would be healthy and utilized a decent amount during Sunday’s Week 1 loss to the Broncos given his sheer versatility and dynamic tendencies.

But that didn’t end up being the case.

While the first-year player was active for his inaugural NFL game (preseason or regular season), the utilization was minimal and so was the production.

Toney was targeted twice — he caught both passes but totaled just negative-2 receiving yards. The first of the two catches was actually on a touch pass early in the game that resulted in a loss of six.

In total, Toney was on the field for just five offensive snaps and zero special teams snaps. The non-existent presence in the latter area is surprising given the expectation Toney could be a legitimate option in the return game.

Future can improve; past remains unchanged

Listen, I understand what ramp-up periods are. And I get that as long as he remains healthy, the Giants could increase Toney’s workload as the season progresses.

But you cannot deny all of the aforementioned occurrences have combined to create a strange start to Kadarius’ NFL career.

When the Giants drafted Toney, it was looked at by many as a beneficial move. The team traded back from No. 11 to 20 overall, acquired numerous future draft picks including a 2022 first-rounder, and still selected a dynamic wide receiver who could add creativity to the offense and assist in the development of Daniel Jones.

But we’ve yet to see anything from Toney at the professional level that could give us a sense he’ll eventually pan out. There weren’t any viral social media clips from training camp; no valuable reps during the trio of preseason games; no signs Sunday that the Giants are heavily valuing him within the offensive game plans.

Not a common occurrence around the league

Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith has included himself in the mix in Philly and caught his first-ever touchdown pass on Sunday.

Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Dolphins rookie wideout Jaylen Waddle have done the same thing and contributed during Week 1.

Meanwhile, with Toney: crickets.

I believe in Kadarius and his immense potential.

But you can’t deny the beginning of his NFL career has encompassed various head-scratching moments, and these same issues haven’t totally arisen with other first-year receivers.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.