It took Leonard Williams eight years to make the playoffs for the first time in his NFL career.
“It feels amazing,” the Giants’ defensive lineman said Thursday.
Now, for one week, he should rest.
Head coach Brian Daboll gruffly dismissed questions on his lineup plans for Sunday’s season finale at the Philadelphia Eagles. He said he’ll make final decisions on Friday night.
But it appears to be trending toward several starters resting, including banged-up starters like Williams (neck) and healthy players, too.
That would be prudent since the Giants (9-6-1) already have locked up the NFC’s No. 6 seed and are simply waiting on their opponent: the Minnesota Vikings or San Francisco 49ers.
By rule, the media is not allowed to report on specific personnel deployment at practice.
Candidates to play either a little bit or not at all, though, include players such as quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, center Jon Feliciano, right guard Mark Glowinski, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and inside linebacker Jaylon Smith, just to name a handful.
In other words, some of the team’s top players, plus important veterans whose bodies can use some extra recovery before the postseason begins.
Jones and Barkley have taken all of the first reps at quarterback and running back in individual drills during the open portions of practice this week. So the Giants haven’t tipped their hand there.
Daboll hasn’t shown Sunday’s starting offense together while reporters have been present, either, including on Thursday when Michael Strahan stopped by to give the club a pep talk.
But it would make sense for backup QB Tyrod Taylor to see the bulk of Sunday’s work, if not the start.
And while incentives in player contracts sometimes impact personnel decisions in a season finale, the Giants don’t have any that will impact contracts this week.
Veteran wide receiver Richie James already earned a $100,000 incentive by reaching 40 catches on the season, according to a source. He is up to 57, tied with Barkley for the team lead.
The players on the field are still going to try to win with the rival Eagles (13-3) battling for the conference’s No. 1 seed. But Daboll has the Giants in the dance, and the priority has to be preparing for what they hope will be a long run.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said he understood the potentially bad optics of Kayvon Thibodeaux’s celebration next to an injured Nick Foles last Sunday. But Martindale still stuck up for his guy.
“He did not know Nick Foles was hurt,” Martindale said. “He’s a good guy and he wouldn’t have done that if he did know that … To me, it doesn’t look as bad as everybody’s trying to blow this thing up as, because I know he did not know he was hurt. I know the guy, I know the person, I know his heart. I get a little protective of that.”
GIANTS INJURY REPORT
Did not participate: DT Leonard Williams (neck), OLB Azeez Ojulari (ankle), practice squad DT Vernon Butler (illness). Limited: C Jon Feliciano (back), CB Adoree Jackson (knee). Full: S Xavier McKinney (fingers), DT Dexter Lawrence (rest).
EAGLES INJURY REPORT
Did not participate: OT Lane Johnson (groin), DE Josh Sweat (neck), CB Avonte Maddox (toe). Limited: QB Jalen Hurts (right shoulder), RB Miles Sanders (knee), LB Shaun Bradley (wrist), DE Janarius Robinson (ankle), CB James Bradberry (rest), WR A.J. Brown (rest), DT Fletcher Cox (rest), G Landon Dickerson (rest), DE Brandon Graham (rest), C Jason Kelce (rest), G Isaac Seumalo (rest), CB Darius Slay (rest). Full: CB Zech McPhearson (illness).