Surprise WR Steps Up to Lead Giants in Preseason Win vs. Patriots

Collin Johnson

NFL New York Giants WR Collin Johnson led the team with 7 catches for 82 yards.

The New York Giants needed someone to step up at wide receiver on Thursday night, and third-year pro Collin Johnson answered the call.

With Sterling Shepard (Achilles) still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and Kadarius Toney (knee) cautiously working his way back from offseason knee surgery, the Giants were without two of their biggest names at the wide receiver position for their preseason opener against the New England Patriots.

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As a result, Johnson saw significant reps with the first team. As you’ll see in the supercut below, Johnson was on the receiving end for two of Daniel Jones’ six completions.

Both of Johnson’s receptions went for first downs. His 17-yard slant on the first drive was tied for Jones’ longest completion of the game. Johnson’s second reception helped keep the Giants’ second drive alive, as he broke a tackle on 3rd-and-2 and went for 13 yards.

Johnson ended up playing 14 snaps with the first team, according to Establish The Run on Twitter. That’s nine more snaps than fourth-year wideout Darius Slayton played with the ones.

Johnson stayed in the game after most of the starters took a seat and ended up leading the team with seven receptions on eight targets for 82 yards. His only major mistake of the night was a lost fumble on the third drive, after gaining 17 yards on a reception from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Johnson, a Texas product, was originally a fifth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft. He landed with the Giants last season and appeared in 12 games (one start), catching 11 passes for 105 yards.

Kenny Golladay’s Red-Zone Drop Killed a Promising Drive

While Collin Johnson took advantage of his opportunity with the first team, Kenny Golladay continued to struggle. Although he received the most snaps with the first team, he only caught one of his three targets for six yards. The Giants put together a lengthy opening drive, but it stalled out inside the 10-yard line, when Golladay dropped a short pass.

This comes after harsh reports from training camp, where Dan Duggan of The Athletic claims that Golladay is “incapable of creating separation” against the Giants’ defensive backs, who “show no respect for his deep speed.”

Golladay has the highest salary cap hit ($21.2 million) of any offensive player on the Giants’ roster, according to Spotrac, after signing a four-year, $72 million contract with the team in free agency last season. After catching zero touchdown passes in 2021, this signing is starting to look like one of the biggest busts in franchise history.

Richie James Finds the End Zone For First Giants TD

The Giants’ first touchdown of the night came in the second quarter, when Tyrod Taylor found wide receiver Richie James wide open in the end zone.

James finished behind Collin Johnson with three catches for 44 yards, including a long of 26 yards. He’s also making an intriguing push for a roster spot.

New York’s only other touchdown of the night was a two-yard rush by running back Antonio Williams in the third quarter. Kicker Graham Gano connected on all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 24-yarder to win the game as time expired.

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