October 14, 2020 | 9:56pm | Updated October 14, 2020 | 10:30pm
When Ron Rivera interviewed with the Giants at the end of last season, the idea of him as their head coach made too much sense not to happen.
So, why didn’t it? Rivera was hired as Washington’s head coach (and temporary lead decision-maker on personnel) before the Giants compiled a list of six candidates for their coaching vacancy, which resulted in the hiring of Joe Judge.
“I was thoroughly recruited to come [to Washington] and got a lot of opportunities to look at this team,” Rivera said. “It never was really about the money. It was more about the challenge. I like the challenge — and it’s been a challenge.”
When the Panthers fired Rivera in early December, after Washington fired Jay Gruden, a month-long courtship was allowed to blossom.
Nevertheless, because Rivera and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman had worked side-by-side for five years with the Panthers, it seemed curious when a reunion never gained any traction.
“My relationship with Dave is good and I have a tremendous amount of respect for who he is as a general manager and more importantly as a man,” Rivera said. “The success I had in Carolina — four of those five years in the playoffs — is directly related to my relationship with Dave.”
Rivera has been tasked with helping to clean up one fire after another in Washington — none bigger than the sexual harassment and discrimination allegations by female employees — while battling a cancer diagnosis.
Washington (1-4) and the Giants (0-5) will enter Sunday’s meeting at MetLife Stadium with a combined 1-9 record.
“Dave has a philosophy which I think is a very good one and we’re trying to institute it here: Big guys give you a chance to compete,” Rivera said. “I look at what their team has in terms of the offensive line, defensive line and [defensive] back seven and I think he’s headed in that direction again.”
The last thing a struggling Daniel Jones needs is to lose his favorite target, but Darius Slayton (foot) was on the injury report as a limited participant in Wednesday’s walk-through.
DT Dexter Lawrence (knee), S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and OLB Kyler Fackrell (ankle) also were limited.
Slayton leads the Giants with 23 catches and 365 yards and has the only two receiving touchdowns.
Peppers played just 23 defensive snaps last week after missing the previous game.
“We definitely expect to see him have an increased role,” Judge said.
WR Sterling Shepard (turf toe) is eligible to come off injured reserve but was not activated Wednesday, which is a discouraging sign for his chance to play Sunday.
Once he is back at practice, the Giants have 21 days to put Shepard on the 53-man roster.