Former First-Rounder Set for Giants Debut, Saints Rule out 3-Time Pro Bowler

Giants activate John Ross

Getty The New York Giants activate WR John Ross.

John Ross’ Giants debut couldn’t be coming at a better time. With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both on the mend for Sunday’s Week 4 bout with the New Orleans Saints, the former No. 9 overall pick has been elevated to the active roster and is expected to take the field for the first time in 2021.

The speedy wideout was inked to a one-year, $2.25 million deal this past offseason in hopes that his 4.22-speed could help stretch the field for an offense that finished dead last in 2020 with 17 big play passes (25-plus yards). However, a lingering hamstring injury throughout training camp landed Ross on injured reserve for the start of the regular season. Now, presumably at full strength, the 25-year-old will look to factor into the Giants’ passing game alongside Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and the rising Collin Johnson.

A former first-round pick of the Bengals in 2017, Ross played four mostly underwhelming seasons in Cincinnati. His most promising campaign came back in 2019 when he was on pace to crack 1,000 yards receiving before a shoulder injury cut his season short. In just eight games, the Washington product accounted for 506 yards on only 28 receptions — an 18.1 yards per reception average. Furthermore, during Ross’ rookie season, the wideout averaged a receiving touchdown every three catches — finishing 2017 with 21 receptions and seven touchdowns.

In total, Ross has appeared in 27 games (20 starts), compiling 51 receptions for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns over his NFL career.

Saints Down 2 Starters on the Offensive Line, Elevate Kenny Stills

When the Saints take the field at Caesars Superdome in Week 4, they’ll be without two key starters along their offensive line. Center Erik McCoy (calf) and left tackle Terron Armstead (elbow) have been ruled out. The latter, a three-time Pro Bowler, is expected to miss “several weeks” per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. James Hurst and Cesar Ruiz are expected to take the places of McCoy and Armstead, respectively.

As far as the skill positions go, the Giants won’t be the only team adding a burner to their receiver group this Sunday. New Orleans has elevated veteran wideout Kenny Stills to the gameday active roster for the second consecutive week. Stills hauled in just one of his three targets for 17 yards in Week 3, but is a proven commodity with 37 touchdowns under his belt and a career 15.6 yards per reception average to boot.

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Toney Primed to Break Out?

While Ross will hopefully bring an added jolt to the Giants’ aerial attack, it will be the aforementioned Kadarius Toney who will have the most eyeballs on him come kickoff. In what has been a widely disappointing start to the season for the entire team, the Giants rookie first-rounder has been arguably the most dissatisfying player on the roster — much of which has little to do with him, specifically.

The team has been reluctant to throw too much Toney’s way — both literally and figuratively.  Over the first three weeks of play, the UF product has seen just five targets come his way and played only 70 offensive snaps. Yet, with injuries ahead of him on the depth chart, the Giants may be forced to take the restraints off their dynamic rookie. Asked by reporters if Toney is ready to “take the next step,” head coach Joe Judge had this to say:

Like I’ve said from the beginning, his role has grown as he’s been on the field more, (been) more available and builtin more experience in the system and chemistry. His role has improved every week and increased every week, so we would expect that to be the same this week. He had a good day of practice yesterday for us, so it was encouraging. He’ll be out here today and kind of go back to the game plan with him.

While Judge’s response was quintessential Joe Judge talk, quarterback Daniel Jones was a bit more vocal and stern in his faith in the first-year wideout.

I think [Toney]’s ready to go. All our guys are ready to go. Obviously, Shep and Slay have made a lot of plays for us and are guys we’ve counted on, but you talked about K.T. and the rest of the group, those guys are ready to step up and make plays. We’ll play to their skillset. Looking forward to getting out there with them.


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