The Giants’ offense has looked solid with Daniel Jones under center in the past two weeks. And he’s about to get another offensive weapon to throw to in Week 5.
Veteran WR Golden Tate is returning from his four-week suspension due to violating the NFL’s PED policy, and will be plugged right back into the lineup with the Vikings coming to MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Of course, Tate wasn’t allowed to practice during his time away from the team. But he isn’t worried about that, saying “I guess maybe a practice two hopefully” is all he’ll need.
In fact, he just can’t wait to take a hit.
“Oh yeah, I have been waiting a long time for the hits,” Tate told reporters on Monday after practice. “I’m excited to be back, I had a big smile on my face yesterday and today. It’s great to be back, I miss these guys, I miss the facility, I miss the coaches. I’m ready to get back to work, here we go.”
Tate admitted that he was itching to get back on the gridiron while watching the first two games of the season. His time away wasn’t without any training, though, as he returned home to San Diego to grind away the days and weeks before he could return.
“I have trainers, massage therapists, and rehab people there. I just went back home and worked my tail off, tried to stay ready and get better and hang with the family. I tried to keep myself busy just to take my mind off of it.”
Playing on the east coast, Tate actually couldn’t find his team’s games on TV at first.
“Sundays were tough for me, I was in a bad mood on Sunday just because from the start of the day I couldn’t find the game. Because I’m on the west coast, they weren’t showing the game. I had to find it somewhere streaming, it started off and then I’m just sitting looking like, I should be out there. It was tough, but yesterday was kind of the first pleasant game for me. One, we won and I knew as soon as the game was over I was pretty much allowed to be back, it was exciting.”
It will be even more exciting if Tate can come in and make an immediate impact for the Giants. The 31-year-old’s biggest plus on the field is his ability to get yards after the catch and make defenders miss. That’s an invaluable asset for a receiver. Tate can also work both in the slot and outside, making him versatile for head coach Pat Shurmur to move around however he sees fit.
And being the team player that he is, Tate will do whatever the Giants tell him to. He just wants to get his hands on the pigskin.
“There is no secret that in the slot I’m pretty dangerous once I get the ball in my hands. I feel like I’m pretty dangerous on third down. Hopefully, I am utilized that way. Whatever it takes to win.”
Tate is also excited to get to work with Jones, someone he can help but praise when looking at his first two starts.
“He’s slippery, he finds his way out of some sticky situations and makes plays,” Tate said of Jones. “Obviously, he’s helped us win. Watching from afar, his decision making has been great, I think. I’m here to help him, helping his development, help make some plays and take some pressure off of him and just help us continue to win.”
Sterling Shepard, who has been holding it down for Tate while he’s been gone, has had a great start to the season and could benefit even more with Tate back. Virtually the same receiver, Shepard knows that Tate’s presence should create some better matchups for him — and vice versa.
“Yeah, for sure,” Shepard said when asked if Tate should help him out. “Like I said, it just gives you another playmaker on the field for defenses to be aware of.”
The Giants’ offense won’t be back in full form like they would’ve hoped after this Tate suspension, as Saquon Barkley is still out with his high ankle sprain. But it will be intriguing to see what Tate brings to this offense. If it gets even better than it has been with Tate now involved, Barkley’s return could make things real spooky for defenses.
But until then, Tate will be working hard to acclimate himself with his teammates and the offense once again and provide the spark the Giants signed him to be in the receiving corps.
“Whatever we are doing right now is working,” he said. “I just want to come in and be a spark, an addition to what we’re doing, just help everybody around me get better and just be myself.”