EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants expected big things from Daniel Jones after taking the Duke quarterback with the sixth overall pick in the draft.
The guy who has been the biggest surprise in the New York’s draft class is wide receiver Darius Slayton. The fifth-round pick from Auburn is emerging not only as a go-to guy for Jones, but a player who can stretch the field.
After missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, Slayton has caught 27 passes for 394 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. He is coming off his best game, catching 10 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets more than a week ago.
Slayton had a hard time evaluating his season.
“From a production standpoint, I feel if I get a chance to go out there, I am going to make plays,” Slayton said Wednesday after the Giants practiced for Sunday’s game in Chicago against the Bears (4-6). “It’s hard to say I am going to have 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those things are hard to quantify especially when you are playing at a new level. I definitely expected to be able to come up here and hold my own and I have been able to do that so far.”
While Slayton was slowed by injuries this season, he has gotten increased opportunities because of some injuries and other issues.
Golden Tate III missed the first four games because of a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Sterling Shepard, who was viewed as the team’s top receiver, has missed the past five games and six overall with two concussions.
Veteran Russell Shepard was put on injured reserve after three games with a foot injury.
Slayton also caught a break getting to work with Jones in the offseason and during training camp until the hamstring injury sidelined him.
“He’s a really good player and you’re able to see all the different things he can do on the field,” Jones said of Slayton. “So, I think he’ll continue to step up and make plays, and I’ve just got to make sure to get him the ball. I think he’s done a really good job so far.”
Slayton said he has not gotten to the point in his career where he can go back to the huddle and say “I’m open” on a certain play or pattern. He and Jones do talk on the bench between series in order to get on the same page.
With the injuries, Slayton’s role has been expanding on game days.
“It’s exciting. Obviously, you want your quarterback to have a lot of faith in you as a receiver,” Slayton said. “I think that’s how you build a rapport with quarterbacks. Every time the ball leaves their hand, making sure it gets completed. I think that helps them have confidence in us. We know they are going to put the ball there, so at the end of the day, it’s on our end.”
NOTES: LT Nate Solder (concussion) participated in practice but was not allowed to have contact. ... TEs Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) did not practice. Engram is feeling better, but he does not know whether he will play Sunday. ... Giants added DB Derrick Baity to the practice squad. He replaces LB Tuzar Skipper, who was signed off the practice squad by Pittsburgh.