You may be seeing a whole lot of Kadarius Toney this Sunday. The Giants should greatly utilize their first-round wide receiver.
Through the first few weeks of the regular season, fans voiced their frustrations over Kadarius Toney‘s playing time (or lack thereof). Toney had played just 8% and 28% of the offensive snaps through the first two games, respectively.
Supporters of the team began to wonder: why weren’t the Giants playing him a decent amount? They made such a significant investment in the former Florida Gator by using the No. 20 overall pick on him — why didn’t they heavily include him in the offensive game plans.
But then, Weeks 3 and 4 arrived, and Toney saw his role expand.
The rookie played 66% of the offensive snaps in the former meeting with Atlanta before putting together his best game as a pro in the latter meeting with New Orleans. Against the Saints this past Sunday, Toney caught six balls for 78 yards and participated on 78% of the offensive reps.
This Sunday against the Cowboys, the rookie should find a notable role once again.
The continued ramp-up
Toney underwent a bizarre start to his career.
He experienced a stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in July and subsequently missed all three preseason games with a hamstring injury.
These issues and limited practice time led to the scarce initial playing time for Toney. But as the weeks progressed, the coaching staff needed to ramp up his level of responsibility, which it has done every week and may continue doing this Sunday against Dallas.
This might especially be the case when you take into consideration the health issues surrounding Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton. Both receivers are dealing with hamstring injuries and it’s unclear how much they will play against the Cowboys (if they play at all).
Contributions to the run game
The expansion of Toney’s role (which could and should continue expanding) comes at a perfect time.
Saquon Barkley is becoming more and more acclimated following his 2020 ACL tear and is seemingly more confident in the status of his knee. Barkley recorded a pair of touchdowns in the victory over New Orleans, one of which was the game-winner in overtime.
Fielding speedy receivers such as Toney and John Ross will benefit the run game. These two should be able to help the offense spread the field more and force the opposing Cowboy defense to not entirely stack the box.
Dallas may need to break out cover-3 or cover-4 looks against the elusive pair of aforementioned receivers, which might clear the way for Saquon to put together an impressive performance on the ground.
Special teams reps
It’s imminent Toney will earn reps as a punt returner at some point, given the dynamic and versatile on-field qualities he portrays.
While he hasn’t put his talents in that department on display just yet, his opportunity could arrive this week.
It’s unclear if primary punt returner Jabrill Peppers will play against the Cowboys due to a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday. This might lead to Toney assuming that type of role, and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey actually touched on the possibility when speaking to the media Thursday.
#Giants ST coach Thomas McGaughey mentioned that Kadarius Toney can return punts if Jabrill Peppers can’t play this week.
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) October 7, 2021
Kadarius is capable of putting on a show from any part of the field. The idea is to get the ball in his hands whenever possible, and providing him special teams reps could help the Giants accomplish that.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY