After testing positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 16, Giants kicker Graham Gano is back working with trainers and is expected to play in Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.
Head coach Joe Judge said before practice Friday that he is “very optimistic” about Gano returning against the Bengals, adding that he wanted to take the day to evaluate how the first-year Giant is moving around before making a decision.
“I think we should get to see him a little bit today out there kicking,” Judge said on a Zoom call. “He was with the trainers independently yesterday swinging his leg a little bit. I just asked him how he felt today. He said he felt good overall. I’m going to watch and see how sore he may or may not be and obviously see him.”
Gano, who signed a three-year, $14 million extension after last week’s win over the Eagles, posted a video of himself kicking into a net inside his hotel room while he was quarantined.
“He wasn’t backing up too far in the hotel room to test his range,” Judge said. “We’ll have to kind of move him around a little bit [Friday] if we’re allowed to.”
The Giants had promoted Ryan Santoso from their practice squad after placing Gano on the COVID-19/reserve list on Nov. 17. It’s likely that if Gano is cleared to play, Santoso will go back to the practice squad.
Judge also said cornerback James Bradberry, who had been excused this week for a personal matter, would be back at practice Friday and that “all signs indicate” he will play Sunday as well.
“He was back last night,” Judge said. “He’s been in all the Zoom meetings with us for install throughout the week. So in terms of meeting wise, he hasn’t missed anything with us. He’s obviously missed the on-field practice time, but this is something we wanted to make sure he could take care of.”
According to Judge, inside linebacker Tae Crowder has been trending in the right direction since being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring strain in October. Judge compared Crowder’s current stage of recovery to that of safety Xavier McKinney, who is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday after fracturing his foot in training camp.
Considering Crowder hasn’t played since the Giants’ Week 6 win over Washington, Judge wanted to see how he responded to a physical practice.
“We’re really looking to see right now how he responds from a harder day yesterday and see where he’s at physically,” Judge said, referring to the 2020 seventh-round pick who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 43-yard fumble return in the Giants’ win over Washington. “That kind of tells the tale of a lot of these guys coming off the IR, is how their body bounces back so we can see what kind of shape they’re really in so that we don’t put them out there in a position to be hurt again. But I’m encouraged with how he’s moving around.”
Logan Ryan currently leads all NFC free safeties in Pro Bowl votes and Judge said he isn’t surprised.
Though Judge said he doesn’t follow such polls, he gave Ryan a strong endorsement for his work ethic and veteran leadership. Ryan is second on the team in tackles (59), trailing just league leader Blake Martinez (96). He also has seven passes defended, one interception, one sack and one fumble recovery in 10 games so far this season.
“This guy is very deserving of everything he’s earned,” Judge said. “He really impacts our team on and off the field in a very positive manner. I’d say on the field, it starts with his communication. That really ties a lot of things together back there. You really have to call the defense from the back end on a lot of things we do, and he’s kind of the unifying voice on a lot of the sets we have.
That being said, he’s developed a very good relationship with his teammates back there, whether it be Julian [Love] or [Jabrill] Peppers or the corners who are working on the perimeter. He’s really done a good job of getting everyone on the same page.”
WR Sterling Shepard (hip/toe) and CB Brandon Williams (ankle) were limited in practice, with Williams listed as questionable. Guard Kevin Zeitler practiced fully again after suffering a concussion before the Week 11 bye.