That is how Kadarius Toney defined how he felt heading into last Sunday’s game in Nashville, the start of his second season with the Giants.
“I wake up ready,” Toney said Wednesday after practice. “It’s never really a point when I’m not ready. Whether I’m over here laughing or playing, do whatever I do, I always have a locked-in mindset.
That mindset was tested during and after the Giants scored a big upset in Week 1, beating the Titans 21-20. Toney was more a spectator than a participant. The Giants ran 60 plays on offense and Toney was on the field at Nissan Stadium for only seven of them. He did not touch the ball until early in the fourth quarter.
This was unexpected. Toney shook off a knee issue in training camp that kept him out of all three preseason games and there were no physical limitations for him as the Giants kicked off their season. Coach Brian Daboll explained there were several packages that included Toney but they were not called as the Giants came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit with three second-half touchdowns.
“You want to do what you can for the team,” Toney said. “That’s what I did. I was there when my number was called. Simple.
“I mean, at the end of the day I did my job. I get paid to do one thing, do my job, bro. I get paid to play, not coach. I don’t know what the plan was. I did prepare as if I was going in to play every play. I don’t know what else to say.
Credit Toney for handling this with maturity, a trait he did not always display as a rookie last season, when injuries, lack of productivity — no touchdowns — and a few mini-controversies left him engaging in terse exchanges with the media.
“It’s bigger than one game,” he said. “We got a 17-game season.”
Daboll took notice of Toney’s body language and responded when Randy Bullock’s 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left as time expired.
“Kadarius is 6 feet up in the air, jumping,” Daboll said. “And he only played seven snaps. So, that’s what we’re trying to build.”
The wide receiver playing time distribution will be something to watch moving forward. Kenny Golladay had an uneven summer and yet he was on the field for 46 of the 60 offensive snaps. It came as a surprise that Richie James was next among the receivers with 32 snaps. It was an even bigger surprise that James led the Giants in wide receiver targets (six) and catches (five).
Sterling Shepard, appearing in his first game since tearing his Achilles tendon last December, played 43 snaps. Shepard hooked up with Daniel Jones for the biggest pass play of the day, a 65-yard catch-and-run for a third-quarter touchdown. David Sills did not have a catch or a target in 27 snaps.
Even with rookie Wan’Dale Robinson lasting only nine snaps in his NFL debut before leaving with a knee injury, Toney could not get on the field.
The first touch of the season for Toney came early in the fourth quarter, when he gained 19 yards on a jet sweep. The only other time he got the ball in his hands was when offensive coordinator Mike Kafka called for a trick play, with Toney having the option to throw a pass if he found an open teammate. Toney, who has a strong arm, decided against this and instead ran for 4 yards on what turned into the game-winning drive.
“At the time the defenders got too close to me and I didn’t have a good look that I wanted downfield so I ended up making a better decision,” Toney said.
Daboll the other day was not speaking about Toney directly when he mentioned that proper preparation the week leading into a game goes a long way in determining the playing rotation.
“If that’s what’s required of me, that’s what I got to do,” Toney said. “Everybody knows I had the injury a couple of weeks ago, that’s why I wasn’t on the field.
“You prepare every week like you’re playing. I had multiple formations I was supposed to be in, we didn’t get around to them. Ain’t nothing else that needs to be explained.
Toney would not speculate whether he believes playing time will increase in Sunday’s home opener against the Panthers. He did sound incredulous when he was asked if he was disappointed with what went down with him in game no. 1.
“Disappointing in a victory? Disappointment in winning?” Toney said. “You sound crazy.
“If I played two plays, one play and we won, I don’t really care.”