Darius Slayton is used to wearing masks, training amidst a pandemic, and being a playmaker.
The New York Giants’ second-year receiver was one of the pleasant surprises of another disappointing season as he became a favorite target of then-rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
Initially slated to be toward the bottom of the depth chart behind the likes of Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, injuries and suspensions opened the door for the Auburn product as he posted 48 receptions for 740 yards and eight touchdowns.
While there’s an expectation to build off such a promising rookie campaign, an offseason derailed by COVID-19 has taken the normalcy out of preparations.
“It’s definitely been an interesting offseason just all the way around with the whole corona thing,” Slayton said. “It’s kind of been a little bit more extended than a normal offseason would be. I feel like I have had a lot of time to get in a lot of good work. I’m looking forward to this season.”
But the 23-year-old has found ways to get training in at home — even with the help from some of his family members.
“It was a tremendous help for me. I had mostly my dad and my sister just doing ball drills with them around the house. They both have good enough aim to not break anything in the house,” he said. “As long as I’m catching it, stuff tends to stay put together. Obviously, I was trying to stay home. I was trying to abide by the rules and regulations at that point in time and not be out and about. I just tried to get creative at the house and find a way to keep getting better.”
Once the Giants do take the field in 2020, they’ll be doing so under a new head coach in Joe Judge, who brought on former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to run New York’s attack.
“I didn’t know too much about him coming in besides obviously he was the Dallas head coach,” Slayton said. “Since he’s been here, I think he has done a really good job of teaching us the system. Being patient and helping give guys time to learn things and get used to the playbook and all that type of stuff. I’m excited to have him as a coach this year.”
What may be even more exciting to Giants fans is that they’ll see a healthy group of wide receivers this season as Shepard, Tate. Those three pass-catchers, along with the explosive young running back in Saquon Barkley have yet to play together, which should present Jones with plenty of options in 2020.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I hope everybody can stay healthy this year and hopefully play a full 16 together,” Slayton said. “I definitely think it will be really important to have all of us out there at the same time. I’m really excited.”