Before Giants rookie WR Darius Slayton made a beautiful catch down the left sideline in Cincinnati to set up a touchdown against the Bengals, his quarterback was sandwiched by one of his former teammates.
Carl Lawson, a fourth-round pick out of Auburn back in 2017, beat Nate Solder off the line and hit rookie QB Daniel Jones on his blindside, forcing a fumble that the Giants luckily recovered. But on the very next play, Jones stood strong in the pocket and delivered a perfect ball to Slayton, who leaped high to grab it and bring it down just short of the goal line for a touchdown.
A few plays later, Slayton was sure to tell his former teammate to be careful with his new one.
"I told him during the game, a couple of plays later there was a little break, and I was like 'Carl, don't be hitting my guy like that. Like I get it, you're trying to get your sacks, but you could've laid him down gently,'" Slayton told The Post's Mollie Walker. "Obviously, the next time [Jones] threw the pass to me and it was a great ball, so definitely shows he's a tough guy."
That was Slayton's only reception of the game -- and the entire preseason thus far. Sidelined with a hamstring injury to start training camp, Slayton worked his way back onto the field in Cincinnati, and showed glimpses of that blazing speed the Giants are hoping to harness.
In offseason workouts and rookie minicamp, Slayton had a tough go of things, as he was seen dropping passes left and right. When Jones gave him a play to make on that jump ball, though, he made the best of that opportunity.
Slayton is hoping those opportunities continue to present themselves.
"It's like it's right there and you can't grab it, you know what I mean?" Slayton said about returning from his injury. "Fortunately, I was able to get back out there against the Bengals and it felt really good to get out there and play again."
But things still aren't working in Slayton's favor.
As practice kicked off on Monday, multiple reports stated Slayton was on the sideline after tweaking his hamstring. It's obviously too early to tell if that will leave him out of the final preseason bout against the Patriots on Thursday, but he will have to now work his way back to the field yet again.
Being a fifth-round pick doesn't necessarily mean one is solidified to their team. They must prove their worth, and Slayton realizes that fact. But in his specific case, it doesn't appear the Giants would want to move away from him this early.
The wide receiver depth looks like this:
- WR1: Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard
- WR2: Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler,
- WR3: Russell Shepard, TBD
That "To Be Determined" has the chance to be Slayton is all works out. TJ Jones seems to have the upper hand right now, as he quickly made an impact after adding depth following injures to the corps. Brittan Golden also looks to have created a roster spot for himself after his great outing in both the receiving and return game last week.
That leaves Slayton and Alonzo Russell vying for a role on the 53-man roster, with Reggie White Jr. potentially in the mix as well. He has six receptions for 100 yards in three games thus far.
The Giants certainly see the potential of Slayton -- potential that has draft steal written all over it. But staying healthy is half the battle when trying to make an NFL roster, something Slayton is already battling in his first few days of pro football.
He's been doing all he can off the field as well to make sure he knows what to do when it comes time to step on the field and do his job. But those chances are dwindling, and Slayton just wants to be able to have the chance to show what he can do.
"Definitely I stayed engaged mentally, which, like I said, when it came time for me to play, I felt like I knew my plays and my assignments and at that point your talent takes over."