Despite chatter that Saquon Barkley could be shut down for the remainder of the season, the former Pro Bowler has remained adamant that he expects to suit up for the team’s final two games of the year. However, while Barkley has his sights on seeing things through the rest of the way, another Giants running back has unfortunately had his 2021 campaign cut short.
On December 30, the team announced that they have placed rookie running back/special teamer Gary Brightwell (neck), as well as right tackle Matt Peart (knee) on season-ending injured reserve. Brightwell, who was a sixth-round pick out of Arizona in last April’s draft, appeared in 13 games for the Giants this season, logging 195 snaps on special teams (58%). Interestingly enough, Brightwell did return to practice last Thursday (December 23) in a limited fashion, but was once again absent from Friday’s session. He was ultimately deemed inactive for the team’s Week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and hasn’t practiced since.
While Brightwell had been sparingly used offensively, there had been a recent push to get him more involved in the backfield with Barkley struggling, as Newsday’s Tom Rock highlighted:
As for Peart, his move to injured reserve was far more expected. The 2020 third-round pick suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter of the Eagles games. Drawing the start for Nate Solder at right tackle, Peart logged just 11 offensive snaps before having his afternoon — and season — swiftly halted. The UConn product has mostly failed to live up to the hype since arriving in East Rutherford. Once viewed as the long-term answer to bookend starting left tackle Andrew Thomas, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post tweeted on December 27 that he believes Peart’s time with the Giants could now be over following the second-year pro’s injury.
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Nate Solder Activated
Brightwell and Peart’s move to IR was just two of seven roster moves the Giants made on Thursday. The aforementioned Nate Solder was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and served as a limited participant during practice. The hope is that Solder will be able to reprise his spot as the team’s starting right tackle come Sunday vs. the Bears.
If not, the team could find themselves in an extremely tough situation, as fellow offensive tackle Korey Cunningham has entered COVID-19 protocol. Cunningham logged 67 snaps at right tackle as Peart’s replacement against the Eagles.
Darius Slayton Enters Protocol, Trent Harris Waived
Joining Cunningham on the Reserve/COVID-19 list is wide receiver Darius Slayton and recent practice squad signee, linebacker Omari Cobb. Slayton, who has already missed three games in 2021, is in the midst of his worst statistical season to date, hauling in just 24 receptions for 310 yards and one touchdown. A far cry for a player who was riding back-to-back 740-plus yard campaigns over his first two years in the league and tied Titans star, AJ Brown, for the most touchdown receptions among all NFL rookies in 2019 with eight.
Lastly, the team said goodbye to Trent Harris, waiving the 26-year-old linebacker. Harris has appeared in a total of eight games with the Giants over the past two seasons. A disciple of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham dating back to their days together in Foxborough and Miami, Harris has amassed 34 tackles, three quarterback hits and two sacks over his 19-game career.