Joe Judge discusses Giants' defensive preparation without Logan Ryan available for Monday

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Logan Ryan waves to fans
Logan Ryan waves to fans

With a potential season-changing game on the horizon, Giants head coach Joe Judge spoke with the media following Saturday’s practice to give updates on multiple injured players.

The biggest injury news going into Monday night’s matchup against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been the absence of cornerback Logan Ryan due to COVID-19. The team officially placed the corner on the Reserved/COVID-19 list on Saturday after testing positive for the virus, and then subsequently ruled him out.

Before Ryan was officially ruled out, Judge spoke about the team preparing for all possibilities regarding the veteran's status.

“As of right now, we placed him on COVID/(Reserve). I’d say when you’re on that, obviously you can’t play,” Judge said. “Is there a small chance that he could still test out and be available? There is. We’re preparing for all the situations of him not being available, as well as if he turns around for the last minute and he is. We’ll prepare for that, as well.”

As a vaccinated player, Ryan would have needed to have two negative COVID tests in a 24-hour period to be eligible. With the Giants next game on Monday, that gave Ryan an outside shot that he could play, though it's since been announced that he will not suit up.

Without Ryan, the impact on the defense will be felt. However, Judge feels that others on his defense can step up, like safety Julian Love.

“That’s what we work on between Jules and (safety) Zay (Xavier McKinney) and those guys right now, (Defensive Back) J.R. (Reed) and different guys playing the safety position for us. They prepare every day for that,” Judge explained. “Again, we talk all the time about we don’t want to lose any of our players, however, if we do, we have to prepare for the next man to step up and execute accordingly. These guys prepare hard. Jules, Zay, J.R., all the DBs have been getting together a little bit extra, working on communication and making sure we’re on the same page. Had a good day of practice yesterday. We’ll go out here today, have some teaching periods built in, as well as correction periods, making sure we iron out anything we had issues with.”

The Giants have been riddled with injuries all season, but as the year has gone on they have slowly seen the return of key players. Tackle Andrew Thomas (who has been practicing though he is still on IR) and running back Saquon Barkley are close to returning this week, but Judge is not yet ready to confirm their availability for Monday.

According to the team's official Saturday injury report, Barkley is listed as questionable. Thomas is not listed, as he's still on IR and does not get a practice report injury designation.

“We’re going to see how [Thomas] comes through and see how it looks right here. I’d say yesterday was a good day for him. We’re going to see how he comes out today and really how the next couple of days go. We do have more of a window here right now to see where he’s at,” Judge said. “I’d say the next 48 hours will be big not just in seeing how he came out of yesterday’s practice, but also how his body is recovering and how we think he’s going to be able to go out there and repeat and sustain for a duration of time on Monday night. Seeing how his body reacts from the last couple of days will be big for us the next couple of days.”

In regards to Barkley, Judge said the 24-year-old was “in the same boat” as Thomas in terms of having a good week of practice and is trending in the right direction. The next 48 hours will be crucial for the former first round pick in terms of how his body responds prior to Monday night.

With seven teams going to the playoffs this season, the Giants (3-6) are looking to continue their chase for a postseason spot after a dominant defensive performance over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 9. A win over Tom Brady and the Bucs on Monday night would put them right on the cusp with seven weeks to go.