Darius Slayton on how Giants QB Daniel Jones can earn fans’ and league’s respect: ‘Win’

NEW YORK — Darius Slayton is Daniel Jones’ biggest advocate, and he said the New York Giants quarterback’s path back to earning league-wide respect is simple.

“Win,” Slayton, 27, said after Thursday’s fifth OTA practice. “I think we all need to win if you want to be seen as a good player in this league. If you lose, the general consensus is ‘they all must be bad players.’

“Two years ago we’re in the playoffs, there wasn’t this negative press,” the Giants’ leading 2023 receiver added. “Everybody was like, ‘Actually, he needs help.’ Right? ‘We need to get better receivers, better weapons for him to be better.’ The narrative comes and goes depending on how your team does. So it’s on me and him and all the rest of the guys we have to get this team going in the right direction.”

Slayton believes his return to the Giants’ offseason program can help the team achieve that goal.

He returned to practice on Tuesday after a six-week absence with only $650,000 in incentives added to his current contract, per ESPN. So he can earn up to $2.15 million in incentives in the last year of his deal instead of $1.5 million, although the terms of those incentives were not immediately available.

Slayton didn’t know if his $350,000 offseason workout bonus was still on the table, either, or if the original terms that required 100% OTA and minicamp participation still applied.

While Slayton’s spring absence didn’t dramatically improve his contract, though, he said he was “satisfied” with the result and “happy to still be here.” He also spoke with the urgency of someone who understands what is at stake this season for the team and organization.

He is set to hit free agency next March, for example, but he said that means nothing if he and the Giants can’t put a better product on the field.

“I’m aware of it,” Slayton said of next year’s chance to cash in. “But to be honest, I don’t really feel as though I have the luxury to look that far ahead considering we won [six] games last year. We kinda got to get over that hump first as a collective and then worry about that type of stuff. So my primary focus was getting back here, helping the guys and try to get this back where we were two years ago.”

Slayton looked sharp running routes in just his second practice back, so he has clearly worked hard on his own and stayed in shape. Jones, meanwhile, looks like he is on the verge of getting involved in 11-on-11 full-team drills in his recovery from a torn right ACL.

While Drew Lock continued to run the first team offense at Thursday’s practice, Jones did an extended throwing workout on the side with wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie.

Jones was dropping back, planting on his right leg, rolling out hard to his left and throwing. Then he was dropping back, planting firmly on his right leg and driving forward to make downfield throws to his right or up the field.

And Daboll admitted “we’ve talked about” Jones getting involved in 11-on-11 soon potentially.

“I’d say he’s getting closer and closer,” Daboll said. “He’s only 6 1/2 months out [from surgery], so he’s kind of right on schedule in terms of his rehab plan where we have him.”

Injuries and absences

Wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, the Giants’ top return man, hurt his left foot or ankle while running routes with no defense. Olszewski slipped to the ground on a comeback route and still caught the pass. But then he hobbled off the field, took his left shoe off and threw his gloves to the ground in disgust as trainers examined him. He eventually stood up and tried to walk it off, but he only made it about 10 yards before sitting back down on the grass. He eventually went inside. … Linebacker Isaiah Simmons, outside linebacker Benton Whitley and corner Aaron Robinson continued to work on the side as rehabbing players. So did wide receiver Dennis Houston. McKenzie also did work on the side outside of some punt returns. … Offensive tackles Evan Neal and Matt Nelson worked with the offensive linemen early but again sat out 11-on-11. Andrew Thomas stepped in at left tackle, so Josh Ezeudu played the right. Daboll said Thomas’ absence from full-team drills last week was not injury related. … Tight end Tyree Jackson, who injured his left arm in last week’s OTAs, was not at practice. … Tight end Darren Waller, and defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Timmy Horne, were all absent. Phillips has been absent for both open OTAs so far, but Daboll implied he has been here at least one day. “Besides Darren — and we’ve talked about him, there’s no update on that — every player has been here at some point for voluntary workouts,” Daboll said.

Daboll continues calling plays

Daboll is expected to call the Giants’ offensive plays this season. He has done it in every open practice so far, which he acknowledged Thursday. “I’ll make the decision, like I said back in March, that I feel is best,” Daboll said, delaying any official admission of his plan. But his intention is clear.

Only two remain

The Giants waived/injured running back Gary Brightwell on Thursday and signed defensive back Elijah Riley, who played 216 special teams snaps for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season and 50 snaps on defense. Brightwell’s release leaves only two members of the Giants’ 2021 NFL Draft class under their previous regime in the building: second-round pass rusher Azeez Ojulari and injured third-round corner Aaron Robinson. Brightwell’s departure leaves a running back room of Devin Singletary, Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin and rookies Tyrone Tracy Jr. and Dante Miller.

Smith helping out

Two-time All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith was on Thursday’s practice field working with young wide receivers Malik Nabers and Jalin Hyatt at times as a consultant and temporary coach.

Smith, an NFL Network analyst who had to apologize last fall for verbally trashing then-Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, played with attitude and high energy during his time as a Carolina Panther. So he could be an interesting person to connect with for the competitive Nabers.

“He’s coming out watching practice,” Daboll said. “I think he’s a good sounding board for some of the young guys, particularly some of the young receivers. So he’ll be here a couple of days. We had him last year, too.”