Richie James quietly emerging as Giants’ unlikely top receiver

It now turns out preposterous to suppose that 9 weeks in the past there was once a query of whether or not Richie James would make the Giants’ 53-man regular-season roster. 

Once it changed into transparent that James had a spot, a brand new query surfaced: Is he in reality going to be a starter? Again, the solution was once sure. 

So, who needs to doubt that the previous seventh-round draft pick out, who’s enjoying on a minimal contract, goes to maintain his tempo as the Giants’ main receiver? Anyone? 

“When I first got here, I said in my mind that I was going to do this,” James advised The Post. “It wasn’t for everybody else to know, just for me to know. I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I chose this team. I wanted to stay here.” 

James’ endurance is expanding by means of the week on a Giants receiving corps that has scored two touchdowns within the remaining 13 video games — a stretch that started Nov. 1, 2021 and lengthy predates his arrival in unfastened company. James leads the staff this season with 14 catches (seven for first downs), wishes 9 yards to surpass the injured Sterling Shepard (154) as the staff chief and in addition returns punts (seven for 63 yards) as a sure-handed possibility. 

Richie James
Richie James, 80, has emerged as the Giants’ top receiver.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

With Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson and Shepard sidelined, the Giants handiest have 4 wholesome receivers (prior to making any practice-squad elevations) heading into their sport Sunday towards the Bears at MetLife Stadium. The different 3 — Darius Slayton, Kenny Golladay and David Sills — have seven blended catches at the season. So, James might be the go-to goal greater than ever, which is a singular spot for a receiver who incessantly was once handled as a spare phase all through 3 seasons with the 49ers. 

“I’ve never been in this spot,” James stated. “I only had one game to show what I could do. When you’ve been waiting for a certain number of years, who wouldn’t want to play well? Any receiver would want to come to a pass-happy offense.” 

The sport James referred to was once a nine-catch, 184-yard efficiency on 13 objectives on Nov. 5, 2020 towards the Packers. He by no means has been focused greater than seven occasions in any of his different 42 video games, however his first 3 video games with the Giants account for 3 of his 8 profession video games with no less than 5. 

“I knew I had it,” James stated. “It’s just opportunity and timing have to be perfect. It’s nothing special or nothing crazy. Just opportunity.” 

The irony is that James’ alternative was once created by means of damage. Shepard, Toney and others overlooked time all through coaching camp and James stepped in with the starters. 

“He’s been very consistent. He’s out there every day,” head trainer Brian Daboll stated. “He’s a very trustworthy receiver —S he’s where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there. I think he’s earned that confidence, not just from the coaching staff but from the quarterback as well.” 

Richie James at Giants practice on Friday.
Richie James at Giants prepare on Friday.
Noah Ok. Murray-NY Post

One 12 months in the past, James was once the one that misplaced a chance when he suffered a knee damage within the preseason and underwent surgical operation that to start with carried a six-week timeline for restoration. He by no means performed every other down for the 49ers. 

“If I had to sum him up in a few words I would say ‘hunger for the game,’” Delfonte Diamond, James’ offseason teacher stated. “He was never complacent. All that outside noise — Richie James is not going to come back from injury — he used as fuel. He called me all excited when he first signed and said, ‘I can’t wait to get on the field there because I’ve got so much to prove.’ There was so much in him for people to see. The best part is that he’s just getting started.” 

The Giants have the fewest completions of 20 or extra yards within the NFL this season (4) and receivers trainer Mike Groh is in search of tackle-breaking avid gamers who “can take a short pass and go a long way.” With Shepard out, it may well be James from the slot. 

“Richie is an instinctive route runner and his body language expresses itself to the quarterback,” Groh stated. “To be able to anticipate that a guy is going to be open as he is approaching a window so that he can let it go a click early is important.”

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