Three days before ghosts and goblins walk the streets on Halloween, Logan Ryan lashed out at the NFL’s Turf Monster.
Ryan is the last Giants defensive captain standing because safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Blake Martinez suffered season-ending torn ACLs. Both injuries happened at MetLife Stadium, which is one of the NFL’s 17 turf fields.
“We’ve really got to talk about these turf fields,” Ryan said. “It’s just not best for a player’s safety. It’s too many lower-body injuries. It’s unfortunate going into a contract year. … It’s taking guys’ earnings ability away, when you miss a season because your ankle can’t get out of the turf or your knee can’t get out of the turf.”
The NFL Players Association, for which Ryan is the Giants’ team representative, called upon teams to replace turf fields with grass in an open letter last season. It noted a 28 percent higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on turf.
Martinez’s injury in Week 3 was non-contact, but Peppers, who will be a free agent in the offseason, was dragged down at the end of a punt return. Saquon Barkley tore his ACL on grass last season at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Giants will play on grass Monday at Kansas City.
MetLife Stadium’s turf has been singled out by visiting teams as especially unforgiving, including a rant last season by 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, whose roster was depleted in back-to-back games against the Jets and Giants. An independent field instructor cleared the turf after Shanahan’s criticisms.
“Our turf is like any other turf,” Ryan said. “I don’t think they’re bad, I just think they’re not as good as grass. We practice on grass every day. The English Premier League, those [soccer] players play on grass — and we play on turf.
“A lot of guys get high-ankle sprains and tear their knees every year on turf. If it happens on grass, it happens on grass. Grass has the ability to move a little bit more than turf. If you had a poll, the players don’t like playing on turf. It is what it is.”
Former Giants first-round pick DeAndre Baker has played just one snap since starting Week 2 at cornerback for the Chiefs.
While with the Giants, Baker was arrested on armed robbery charges in May 2020. He was released that September. After the charges were dropped in November, he quickly signed with the Chiefs and played in two games before suffering a broken leg in the regular-season finale.
Before his arrest, Baker fell out of favor as a rookie with the previous Giants’ coaching staff because of a lack of focus in meetings and practice. But Chiefs coach Andy Reid is known for giving second (and third) chances.
“He’s come in here and worked and done everything we’ve asked him,” Reid said. “He had that horrendous broken leg that he had last year. He’s still kind of really working through that as he goes. I think it gets a little tired on him still.”
The Chiefs are allowing 404.6 yards and 29 points per game under defensive coordinator Steve Spanguolo. Giants fans should remember that Spagnuolo’s defenses tend to be either Super Bowl-winning quality (he has won rings with the Giants and Chiefs) or dreadful (the 2015 Giants).
Reid hasn’t lost any confidence in his longtime friend.
“He’s a tough kid,” the 63-year-old Reid said of the 61-year-old Spagnuolo. “You broke him in. You know that.”