Giants’ Daniel Bellinger ‘more confident’ as he nears return


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The first time Giants rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger took the field for a full-padded practice after surgery to repair a frightening eye injury, he admitted he was, if not nervous, certainly more cautious than usual.

That went down Tuesday and Bellinger said he was relieved how he felt during and after the session. He is listed as questionable to play Sunday against the Commanders, but expressed supreme confidence that he will return after missing the past four games.

“At first I was thinking about my eye, of course, when we first put on pads,’’ Bellinger told The Post. “After that I felt a lot more comfortable with it. After those first few hits I felt a lot more confident with it. No pain, nothing like that. Definitely feel a lot more confident with it than I did a few days ago. I still think it’s gonna take a little bit, step by step, to feel 100 percent again.’’

During Week 7 at Jacksonville, Bellinger caught a pass for a 13-yard gain near the end of the first half and went down after he was accidentally poked in the eye by a Jaguars defender. Blood stained his jersey as he was carted off, and he needed surgery to repair fractures of his lower eye socket and damage to his septum.

Daniel Bellinger
Robert Sabo

Bellinger also experienced double vision. That has cleared up, and the physical practice earlier in the week helped convince him he can handle the real thing.

“We had some pretty big hits, had some nice contact with some of the linebackers and there were no problems with it, that’s why I feel confident,’’ Bellinger said. “I really felt the same as I did before, there was nothing, vision-wise, pain-wise so I feel a lot more confident now.’’

Bellinger, in seven games, has 16 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown. In addition to his receiving skills, the Giants also missed his run blocking.

Daniel Bellinger tries to make a catch at practice.
Robert Sabo

There is a new addition to his helmet: A visor attached to his face mask. The one he used in practice had a pinkish hue to it.

“Looks cool,’’ Bellinger said. “It’s supposed to make the brown of the ball pop a little bit.’’

Help has arrived on defense. OLB Azeez Ojulari and S Tony Jefferson were activated from injured reserve.

More roster moves: DT Vernon Butler and defensive back Zyon Gilbert were elevated from the practice squad. TE Nick Vannett was signed off the practice squad to the active roster and TE Tanner Hudson was waived.

The Commanders will be without starting RG Trai Turner (ankle). RB Antonio Gibson (foot) is questionable, as is LB Chase Young, who has not played yet this season coming off ACL surgery. … The Giants’ Nick Gates is expected to start at left guard for only the second time in his career; he has 18 starts at center. The interior offensive line group of Gates, Jon Feliciano and Mike Glowinski will be challenged by the most productive interior defensive line duo in the league, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, who have combined for 76 pressures and 13 sacks.

Glowinski (back) and WR Kenny Golladay (illness) were added to the injury report Saturday, giving the Giants 11 players designated as questionable.

Giants executives and head coach Brian Daboll took Odell Beckham Jr. out to dinner Thursday night as part of his free-agent visit and, given Beckham’s fame and highlight-film talent when healthy, speculation is rampant regarding where he will end up — the Bills and Cowboys are also in the mix. The Giants have an enormous game this weekend though.

“It’s not a distraction, to be honest,’’ Saquon Barkley said. “We were aware of it, we know. It’s Odell Beckham Jr. but the only time we really have to talk about it is when we have to talk to you guys. If we were too focused about, ‘Oh, is Odell coming or not?’ how would we be in the right mindset to go play against an NFC East division opponent who’s 6-1 in the last seven games? That’s the focus. I would love for Odell to come, but the main thing is to continue to finish the season off strong, playing meaningful games in December. We’ve got to find a way to win these games.’’

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