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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kenny Golladay is in his sixth NFL season and he’s a year removed from signing a $72 million contract. He’s exactly the type of player that might consider skipping an extra voluntary minicamp scheduled for early in the spring.
Yet, there he was on Wednesday morning on Day 2 of this three-day camp, on the field with his Giants teammates, catching passes from quarterback Daniel Jones. And it wasn’t the first time this spring either. He’s been part of the Giants’ offseason workout program, too.
“I guess you could just say that’s how much it means to me,” Golladay said. “Especially coming off last season, I feel like the whole team is just trying to start off on a good note.”
Then he added this: “I feel like everyone should definitely be here.”
And yes, he knew exactly who was not.
That brings us to the curious case of Kadarius Toney, who is not yet at new head coach Brian Daboll’s first minicamp and, by several accounts, has not been a participant in the first three weeks of the offseason workout program either.
It’s a curious choice because he’s exactly the type of player that should be here -- a young, important player who struggled to gain his coaches’ trust last season, showed off his immaturity, and then saw a rookie season ruined by injuries and more.
You would think the 23-year-old first-round pick would want a fresh start with a new coaching staff, would want to dive into the new playbook, solidify his stature among his teammates. They noticed when he was absent too often last spring. They surely have noticed again.
Now, it’s worth noting a couple of things: A big one is that no reason has been given for Toney’s absence. It’s certainly possible he has a legitimate excuse -- more legitimate than the fact that it’s “voluntary,” which probably should be legitimate enough. Another thing is that nobody inside the organization has set off any alarms over his absence, not with three months before training camp opens and 4 ½ months until the start of the regular season.
Daboll seemed to brush it off as no big deal. GM Joe Schoen did, too.
“It's voluntary,” Schoen said on Wednesday. “Nobody asked about the other guys that aren't here.”
Fair point. But cornerback James Bradberry wasn’t there because the Giants can’t even tell him if he’ll still be on the team next week. And while the absence of guard Mark Glowinski (Glowinski's wife is having a baby) and kicker Graham Gano were certainly noted by the media, neither of them carry the baggage that Toney brings into his second season in the league.
Also, even Daboll conceded that “the guys that aren’t here, they’re going to miss out on some things.” And it’s not just about Toney either. He could turn out to be one of Jones’ most important weapons in a critical year for the quarterback. It certainly couldn’t hurt if they worked on their timing a little more.
Also, Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka are still building the offense. It sure would help if they could see Toney up close, talk to him in person, and learn better what he’s best at and what he likes and doesn’t like to do.
There is time for all that, of course. This is just a bonus camp given to first-year coaches. There are still two months to go in the offseason program, including another three-day camp. Then, there’s six weeks of training camp in the summer, too.
Toney missed a lot of that last year, too -- first by choice, and then because of injuries. The more he missed, the more his image took a beating. Then, he went off for 10 catches for 189 yards in Week 5 in Dallas and all of a sudden, albeit briefly, he became a rising star.
That star never really took off, though, and he finished with a disappointing 39 catches for 420 yards. The optimistic take was that it was a building block season, that this year is when he’d be ready to take the next step.
But to do that, he has to show up first.
Again, there is plenty of time and nobody is ready to panic. This camp is really just a jog-through of drills with only a handful of team drills mixed in. As Daboll said over and over again on Wednesday, this program he’s building is only in the very early stages. It’s impossible to argue that Toney is missing anything critical. There’s plenty of time to catch up.
But his absence is still curious, definitely noted, and something to watch as the spring continues -- even if he’s not the only one. It’s also a reminder of something I’ve heard from every championship team I’ve ever covered, including two with the Giants: When those teams looked back on their season, they almost always said they knew they had something special when the offseason began and everyone was there, ready to work. They spoke of the invaluable work they did in the offseason, how everyone bought in.
So, as much as everyone at this time of year tries to say the offseason program isn’t important, the best teams know that it is. That, they always said, is when they became a team. That’s when they set the foundation for their season.
Most of the current Giants are trying to do that right now. It’s just curious that Toney is not.