The Giants head into their bye week feeling like a new team, having won two games in a row and putting themselves in contention for the division title and a home playoff game.
Joe Judge spoke to reporters today ahead of the bye week, here's a few takeaways from him:
On Ryan Santoso filling in for Graham Gano
Just a few days after extending Gano through the 2023 season, the kicker tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed in self-isolation. Because of this, the Giants will turn to Santoso as their kicker until Gano can return.
"Ryan’s a guy who has a huge leg, he’s shown a tremendous amount of improvement since he’s been here. It’s a unique skillset that he does all three, field goals, kickoffs and punts. He’s shown a lot of improvement in all three phases through being. I think Tom (Quinn) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) do a tremendous job of working with this guy," Judge said. "This guy is a mentally tough guy, too. He’s one of my favorite guys on the practice field. He kicks for us in kicking periods, obviously. He does a lot of his field goal operational work on Friday with the team.
"Me and him normally have some kind of side bets going on as he is kicking, kind of put a little pressure on it. I think he’s a little bit better in terms of roping that thing through the uprights when I’m talking a little smack behind him. We have a lot of confidence in Ryan."
On Gano's status and when he may return
Gano has knocked 21 of his 22 field goal attempts this year (95.5 percent), only missing a 57-yarder in Chicago in Week 2. He's also hit all 16 of his extra point attempts this year.
"There’s a timetable with that. There’s an opportunity for that, but there are some other things that go into that as well. Are there any setbacks in that time window? Where does the physician clear him? There’s a ramp up period. Him, like everybody else, we have to be fair to this guy. He’s sitting in a hotel room for a couple weeks. Is it fair to him to put him on the field and ask him to go ahead and do his job? These are all things we have to account for. In fantasy football, yeah, plug him in and we’re good to go. In reality, are we doing the fair thing by him individually and the team collectively to take someone who hasn’t had two weeks of an opportunity to prepare to put him out there to do a job?
"Graham has talked to Ronnie (Barnes) today. I touched based with him yesterday. I don’t want to speak for him in terms of how he may feel with this. I don’t know all the stages of this virus personally, so I don’t know if this is something that increases, decreases. I don’t want to speak for any of the players. I know obviously our trainers are communicating with him on a regular basis to make sure his welfare is okay. I’ll touch base with him later today like I do with most of the players."
On guys on the verge of returning from IR
The Giants have a number of guys on IR at the moment, including Xavier McKinney and Ryan Lewis.
"I was really counting on seeing a little bit of those guys this week," Judge said. "Obviously, we can’t see them on the field football wise this week. Monday will be an important day for us to kind of take a look at a lot of these guys moving around. We still have to make a declaration on a couple of these guys in terms of their clock. We’re going to have to evaluate these guys next week and see where they are going into Cincinnati. We’re optimistic we should see the majority of those guys if not all of them at some point down this stretch. They’ve all made progress, they’re all working very hard with our trainers. I know they are a lot further ahead than they were when they initially went on IR. We just have to see how close they are to game action for us."
On the rotation of guys playing the second cornerback spot
Though the Giants have had James Bradberry manning the first cornerback spot on the depth chart, the second spot has seen a rotation of guys, like Isaac Yiadom, Corey Ballentine (when he was here) and Ryan Lewis, fill in there. Judge plans to keep things the same moving forward and not use just one guy.
"I expect all the guys to play, I really do," Judge said. "There may be certain matchups that we may favor a certain guy for a skillset. There may be certain positions on the field, whether it’s red area versus backed up or in the field, that may be more of an early down guy or a third down guy. Every game brings a little bit of a different element on how you’re trying to match up the opponent.
"To me, I have no issue at all playing guys at any position and rotating them on through. As long as we’re getting production, we’re keeping guys fresh, we expect everyone at the game to contribute. In terms of the way I view the game, no, I have no issue with that at all."
On Yiadom's play the last few games
"I’ve seen a lot of improvement from Ike. Yeah, that’s a guy who’s really worked tirelessly at practice. He’s really competed hard for us and shown a lot of things at practice. Then he got a shot in the game and he went out there and he’s been making plays for us. Yeah, he’s done a lot of really good things right now that have helped us," Judge said. "He’ll keep playing for us as well, as will (Madre) Harp(er), we get Ryan Lewis back and a number of other guys."