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Packers-Giants Week 5 Q&A: On Saquon Barkley’s bounce-back and injuries galore

Ed Valentine from Big Blue View joins us to check on the state of the Giants before they play the Packers on Sunday.

NFL: International Series-London Views Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Jones or Davis Webb? That’s one of the questions that the New York Giants are trying to answer this week as they prepare to play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Jones’ ankle injury has his status uncertain while backup Tyrod Taylor is expected to be out with a concussion, so the Packers could see yet another third-string quarterback on Sunday.

Of course, Sunday’s game is no ordinary week five regular season contest. This game will be played in London, with the two teams both traveling just a few days early to make the journey as close to a typical road trip as possible. The Giants are also down a handful of wide receivers, with a few others questionable for this weekend.

To get the Giants fan’s perspective on the game, I spoke to Ed Valentine of Big Blue View, the SB Nation blog covering the G-men, to get his thoughts on the current state of that team. Ed and I have covered a few Scouting Combines together over the years, so it was fun to check back in on him after the Giants drafted a couple of his favorite prospects from this year’s class. Here’s what he is looking to see from Packers-Giants on Sunday.

APC: As of Wednesday, Daniel Jones looks like he’s probably going to start for the Giants. What’s the general feeling about the young quarterback and how has he looked under Brian Daboll and the new offensive coaching staff?

I would say at this point Jones is almost certainly going to start. I was at Wednesday’s practice, and he was moving around very well. Jones still draws a mixed reaction from everyone — media and fans. He has done a lot of good things thru four games. His legs, his toughness, his decision-making have been big parts of the Giants’ success. He is highly respected in the locker room and by the organization.

The problem is everyone can see that the passing numbers aren’t there. That, honestly, is not Jones’ fault this year. Sterling Shepard and Collin Johnson are out for the year. Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson have barely played. Kenny Golladay has contributed nothing. The Giants are working around issues at wide receiver and growing pains with their offensive line, and really have barely tried to push the ball down the field.

APC: Saquon Barkley looks like a new man compared to last season. Are his tremendous numbers so far more a result of him finally being fully healthy after his ACL tear in 2020, him having a better line in front of him than last year, or Daboll and company unlocking something schematically to get him going?

I would say all of the above. Barkley is healthier and more confident than he has been since his rookie season. Just watch the highlights — he is back to being dangerous every time he touches the ball. The run-blocking is better than it has been in a long time, and the scheme with Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka is much better and much more flexible than what the Giants have been used to.

APC: Who is going to play receiver for the Giants this week? I’m honestly curious who will line up outside, given all the injuries that have depleted that position group.

Well, that’s a good question. Can you run? Catch? Have any friends? I don’t know. Robinson and Toney are at least back to practice, so there is a chance one or both play. But, the receiver situation is the biggest reason the passing numbers have been so awful.

APC: The Giants got two building-block players in the top ten of this year’s draft with edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (who I believe I remember you being a big fan of when we were in Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine) and offensive tackle Evan Neal. How are the early returns for those two players and do they look so far like they will live up to their lofty draft statuses?

Yes, I was a big fan of Thibodeaux. He has played in only two games after missing about 5 weeks with an MCL sprain. He hasn’t made any real splash plays or had a huge impact yet, but he really has not practiced much, either. I think patience is going to be required, but you can certainly see the power and the athleticism.

Neal had an AWFUL game on Monday Night Football, being beaten by DeMarcus Lawrence for three sacks. He bounced back Sunday with a good game against the Bears. I’d say he is having some typical rookie offensive tackle growing pains, but he’s athletic, smart, cares about his craft and he should have a long, excellent career.

APC: DraftKings has the point spread at Packers -8 for this game, a pretty big gap on a neutral field even given the Giants’ injury situation. Do you feel that the Giants are being underestimated despite starting out the season with a surprising 3-1 record, or are the apparent concerns about their ability to compete with playoff contenders valid based on their performances so far?

I’m picking Green Bay to win this game. The Giants are well-coached, they have a capable defense, they have Barkley and if they have a Jones who can make some plays with his legs I think they can cover on Sunday. To me, the Giants are a building team still at the beginning of climbing out of the hole they have been in. I really don’t think they should be expected to regularly beat the best teams in the league.