Will injured Kenny Golladay have enough time to fit into Giants' offense?

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Kenny Golladay running up close
Kenny Golladay running up close

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The big conclusion the Giants drew after watching their horrific offense last year was that they needed more dynamic weapons in the passing game. That’s why they put the full-court press on Kenny Golladay and lured him with a $72 million deal.

He was supposed to be their No. 1 receiver -- maybe their best since Odell Beckham, and certainly their best big man since Plaxico Burress.

And he eventually might be. They just might not find out for sure any time soon.

With just 10 days left until the regular season opener, the 6-4, 214-pound Golladay did not sound confident at all on Thursday when discussing his recovery from a hamstring injury and whether he’d be available for opening day. He said he’s “getting better” and still trying “to get my legs up under me.” But he warned he’s had just a day-and-a-half of practice since he suffered the injury way back on Aug. 4.

He also noted that hamstrings are “tricky” and “you’ve got to be smart and patient with them” -- a warning that his return to full speed could be slow.

And that’s a problem for the Giants, because the addition of Golladay was a huge piece of their offseason puzzle. They were counting on him to boost their passing game and help the development of quarterback Daniel Jones. But he’s missed four weeks when he could’ve been working on his timing with his new quarterback and being integrated into the offense.

New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) and quarterback Daniel Jones (8) talk during OTA practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday, June 4, 2021, in East Rutherford.
New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) and quarterback Daniel Jones (8) talk during OTA practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday, June 4, 2021, in East Rutherford.

Now, as the game-planning for Sept. 12 against the Denver Broncos is basically underway, how are the Giants supposed to have any idea what he’s able to do?

“Well, we saw a lot of him in Detroit. That’s one of the reasons we liked him and wanted to bring him here,” Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said on Thursday. “So that’s where it starts. But certainly you want your guys to practice every play, every single day, OK? That’s how they get better. That’s how they get comfortable with each other. But that’s not realistic.”

Golladay, of course, is just part of Garrett’s problem. Rookie receiver Kadarius Toney and tight end Kyle Rudolph have both been sidelined for most of training camp, and Saquon Barkley has only been back for a couple of weeks. Receiver John Ross has been in and out of practice, and now he’s on injured reserve. And now tight end Evan Engram is likely questionable for the opener with an injured calf.

So whatever Garrett thought his offense would be, he hasn’t had a chance to see it.

“We have a notion about what these guys are, we have a vision for what they are and how they fit in,” Garrett said. “But we need some time on task.”

Maybe none of them need more “time on task” than Golladay, given how integral he figured to be to the Giants’ plans for Jones. Golladay had 64 catches for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019 in Detroit -- his last fully healthy season. The Giants envisioned numbers at least as good as those, maybe even better since they figured to have enough weapons to spare Golladay from constant double-teams.

But that month he missed when he could’ve been working on his timing with Jones is “a real concern,” said receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. And it might not be reasonable to expect Golladay to step right in and play like a top receiver after missing so much time, even as accomplished as he is.

“You say he’s accomplished, but he was accomplished other places,” Tolbert said. “He knows how to play the NFL game. He’s been in big games before. But as far as doing stuff our way, the right way, all the time, that’s still going to take some reps.”

There just aren’t many reps left between now and Sept. 12, and who knows if that’ll be enough time to get Golladay playing like the receiver he’s expected to be?

“Whatever the situation is, we have to make it work,” Garrett said. “Obviously we’d love to have Kenny out there every practice, he and Daniel working on their timing, but that hasn’t been the case. So we deal with what the situation is. He’s been completely engaged. He understands what we’re doing.

“We’ll get a chance to have him practice more and more here the next week or so and we’ll find out more.”