Home Sports Giants roster decisions a ‘very tough time’ for Joe Judge

Giants roster decisions a ‘very tough time’ for Joe Judge

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When Joe Judge steps on the field Monday, there before him on the grass, for better or worse, will be the 2020 Giants, as his first roster is formed and ready to prepare for the Steelers in the season opener.

“All the players we kept on our 53 and our practice squad are guys we think give us versatility and have the ability to develop and keep shaping this roster in a positive way,’’ Judge said Sunday, steering clear of the characterization that this is his team. “Really, this is our team, the New York Giants team.’’

Is this team any good? Hard to tell.

The Giants claimed three players off waivers Sunday, as they were awarded wide receiver Damion Ratley from the Browns and two players from the Chiefs: offensive tackle Jackson Barton and safety Adrian Colbert.

Linebacker Ryan Connelly, the Giants’ fifth-round draft pick in 2019, was cut on Saturday and a day later was claimed by the Vikings. Connelly is from Eden Prairie, Minn., making it a homecoming and a new start for him.

This was a surprise, considering Connelly was a starter as a rookie last season before a Week 4 injury led to knee surgery.

“We have a lot of respect for Ryan, he’s a good football player,’’ Judge said. “We had to make a decision ultimately that was best for us. We wish him good luck. If things worked out perfectly for us we would have loved to have him back on the practice squad. We didn’t expect that to happen, to be honest with you, because we know he’s a good, accomplished player and there were going to be a lot of teams in the league looking to claim him.’’

Ryan Connelly
Ryan ConnellyAnthony J Causi

To make room on the roster for the three waiver claims, the Giants released receiver Corey Coleman, safety Sean Chandler and offensive lineman Chad Slade. The Giants put rookie safety Xavier McKinney (broken foot) and linebacker David Mayo (torn meniscus) on injured reserve. They are eligible to return after three weeks — although McKinney will be out 10-12 weeks. That cleared up two roster spots. The Giants used them to re-sign tight end Eric Tomlinson and cornerback Brandon Williams; both were waived Saturday.

Judge mentioned the desire to add speed when he addressed the additions of Ratley and Colbert.

Ratley, 25, in 26 games (six starts) had 25 receptions for 344 yards and one touchdown in two years with the Browns. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Ratley was a 2018 sixth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M. Freddie Kitchens, the Giants’ tight ends coach, was the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2018 and head coach in 2019, meaning he knows all there is to know about Ratley.

Colbert, 26, has 27 NFL games and 17 starts on his résumé. He started five games last season for the Dolphins when Patrick Graham — currently the Giants defensive coordinator — ran the defense in Miami. Colbert was a 2017 seventh-round pick of the 49ers and was with the Seahawks and Dolphins before signing and then getting cut this summer by the Chiefs.

Barton, 25, was a 2019 seventh-round pick of the Colts out of Utah. The 6-7, 302-pound Barton did not make the Colts roster and was signed last November by the Chiefs.

“Each one answers specific needs at that position group, as far as establishing more depth and giving us some versatility at the position,’’ Judge said.

The roster machinations complete, for now, Judge can pivot to Monday, when he gets his actual team on the field for a 90-minute workout. He is thankful this chapter is behind him.

“This is not a fun part of the business, this is a very tough time for every player and every coach,’’ Judge said. “There’s guys in the locker room seeing teammates walk out the door. There’s coaches who invested a whole lot personally in players to develop them. The reality of this league is you can’t keep everybody.

“They’re not easy conversations. You want to make sure you give every player the direct truth on why the move was made, what we think they can work on going forward to give themselves the best chance.’’

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