The Broncos are coming, and Patrick Graham is sporting stubble on his chin.
The Giants’ defensive coordinator is a worrier, and this week the object of his concern is basically everyone the Broncos put out on the field on offense. When he got through analyzing the wide receivers that veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will throw it to on Sunday, Graham sounded exhausted.
“So, yeah, it’s tough,’’ Graham said. “That’s why I haven’t shaved.’’
The Broncos are not reputed to be a high-wire passing game, but do not tell that to Graham. He sees Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick as a fearsome foursome, attempting to prey on the strength of the Giants’ defense, their secondary.
“They’ve got people that can run,’’ Graham said. “You ask any coordinator, any head coach, any DB coach, the first thing: ‘Who are the people that can run by you?’ They have several of those guys. They could run by you. If it’s a foot race, they could run by you. “Then, you’ve got to talk about the tight end [Noah Fant]. There’s another guy who could run.
“Then, if the ball is thrown deep — again, I’m starting with all the deep passes. There are other passes in football, but I’m starting with all the deep passes because that’s when they can score right away. They’ve got two guys that could just jump up and go get the ball with anybody, so right there you’re like, OK, a few things to defend right there. Then, do they have anything on the interior? Yes, they’ve got things in the interior.
“Two of the fast guys play in the interior, so now it’s vertical seams on the inside. That’s tough right there because who are they matched up on?”
It could be that rookie Kadarius Toney is the first Giants player to touch the ball in the regular season — if the Giants entrust him with the kickoff-return duties. That role requires ball security as a priority, more so than breakaway ability.
“Kadarius is earning everyone’s trust,’’ special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “He’s getting out here and he’s working. He’s a rookie, he’s trying to find his way and lead. He’s going to try and find his niche and he’s doing a good job, he is. He’s different, he’s a special athlete.’’
There are other players the Giants can use to return kickoffs. C.J. Board is listed first on the unofficial depth chart, but he is currently on the practice squad. Jabrill Peppers is listed second and Toney third. Peppers is listed as the primary punt returner.
“We’ve got a bunch of options at that spot, which is good,’’ McGaughey said. “We’ll just keep working those guys. We’ll keep rolling them and see who ends up back there in the game.’’
It sounds as if Nate Ebner, signed this week, will pick up where he left off in 2020 as a key cog on virtually every special teams unit. Ebner this summer was rehabbing an injury that cost him a shot at making the U.S. rugby team that competed at the Olympics in Tokyo.
“It’s like anything else, he’s got to get in football shape and get used to the volume,’’ McGaughey said. “As far as the scheme and everything else, he’s good.’’