The Giants are looking at another nightmare injury game.
Linebacker Blake Martinez suffered a potentially serious knee injury and receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard suffered hamstring injuries to put a damper on the first-half lead built Sunday against the Falcons — before Atlanta took the lead with 1:33 left in the second quarter. All three starters quickly were ruled out for the rest of the game.
Then running back Saquon Barkley was limping on the sideline during the second quarter after an awkward hop finish to a run towards the sideline.
Martinez went to the turf on a non-contact injury after he was juked by Cordarrelle Patterson. The immediate worst-case scenario fear is structural damage to a ligament that might be season-ending.
Martinez is one of the most indispensable players on the Giants because he is a co-captain, a tackling machine — at least 144 in each of the last four seasons — and he covers tight ends and running backs better than the other inside linebacker options.
The Giants replaced Martinez with run-stuffer veteran Reggie Ragland but second-year pro Tae Crowder inherited the signal-caller headset. When Martinez missed time last season, the communication went to safety Logan Ryan, but the Giants prefer keeping it at the second level.
Slayton is one of quarterback Daniel Jones’ favorite targets and had one of the Giants’ two touchdown catches over the first two games. Slayton’s absence means more snaps for C.J. Board and rookie Kadarius Toney.
This was supposed to be the second time in the last 35 games that the Giants had Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram and their top three receivers all available for the same game. The possibilities ended with Slayton’s injury, just like the other all-in appearance ended early last season when Barkley suffered his season-ending torn ACL.
It is conjuring up memories of when the Giants lost four receivers to injuries in the same game against the Chargers in 2017.
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