Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 8:22pm
The emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. as a No. 1 wide receiver in his 2014 rookie season after Cruz went down is one of those reasons. The severity of the injury (torn patellar tendon) from which Cruz is recovering is another. And this recent study by NumberFire, which shows that Cruz's production was already in decline in the two years prior to 2014, offers yet another.
The story goes on to say a lot could still depend on what happens in 2015 - whether or when Cruz recovers, how productive he is in the second year of Ben McAdoo's offense, how he meshes with Beckham and Rueben Randle and Shane Vereen and Larry Donnell and Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, all of the varied weapons available to the Giants on offense. This decision could be an easy one in either direction next February. But the potential is there for it to remain a tricky one, because of a lot of things that weren't yet factors when he signed that contract just two years ago. The Giants would save only $2.45 million against this year's cap if they cut Cruz now, and they have no reason to do so. But the cap savings jumps to $6.1 million if they cut him next offseason, the story adds.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 11:45am
Williams was partly victimized by an offensive line that lost way too many battles at the line of scrimmage, failing to open up holes long enough for Williams to exploit. Only one starting offensive lineman had a positive run blocking grade last season, per Pro Football Focus (left tackle Will Beatty at +6.1).
Williams also displayed poor vision in finding those holes and cutback lanes. At 5-11, 230 pounds, Williams is a bruising north-south runner with some giddy-up when he gets to the second level, but he had trouble grasping the patience aspect of being an every-down back. Instead of waiting a split-second after he was handed the ball for his blocks to materialize, Williams would often run straight ahead, knocking into the backside of his offensive linemen countless times.
That's not to say that Williams' rookie year was a complete lost cause, the story went on to say. He finally broke the 100-yard mark in Week 14 against the woeful Tennessee Titans, busting out for 131 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. Two weeks later against a much better St. Louis Rams defense, Williams gashed them for 110 yards on 26 carries. Those performances give reason for optimism that Williams can develop into a nice complementary back in his sophomore season. But with Shane Vereen now in the fold as the likely third down running back behind Jennings, that leaves Williams' role this year up for question.
Vereen will serve as the team's passing down back, putting a sizable dent in the upside of Rashad Jennings, who averaged 3.2 catches (and 23 receiving yards) in the nine games in which he played significant snaps. With Andre Williams also in the mix for early down work, this situation appears to be devolving into a true committee.
"They said they want me back, for sure," he said. "I was their draft pick, so they said they definitely want me to come back."
The market for free agent running backs has dried up considerably in recent years, but Ingram should be able to garner the $3 million per year (or so) that Toby Gerhart and Rashad Jennings received last year. Ingram would hold RB2-type value if he returns to New Orleans since a healthy Khiry Robinson would likely cap Ingram's workload. Robinson's injuries played a big role in Ingram getting the 19.6 touches per game that he saw in 2014.
Especially catching the football. He worked hard in that department, getting maximum use out of the Jugs machine, but now it’s a mental game.
“I feel like I have a different set of hands,’’ Williams said of his 18 receptions, good for 130 yards after not catching a pass his senior year at Boston College. “I feel like I have a better grasp on how the catching mechanism is supposed to work.’’
Now comes Step 2.
“It’s not really anything physical, it’s mental,’’ Williams said. “You come into the league and it’s like, ‘I was catching passes from college quarterbacks, but now this is Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, who is throwing balls to Odell Beckham who has something crazy going on with his hands. He can catch them with one hand and I couldn’t even begin to think of how to accomplish that. It’s definitely a mental game, just having confidence that you are capable of it. Once you have that then you can really start working on actually catching the ball.’’
The story added that Williams is an intelligent player and is going to pick the brains of veteran running backs like Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy this offseason, along with his continuing dialogue with Giants’ veteran back Rashad Jennings. Any improvement in the pass-catching game could give Williams the edge to a more significant role next year. Jennings is approaching old age in terms of RBs (will be 30 in March) and was banged up in 2014.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle, probable) took limited practice reps all week and is probable for Week 17. Jennings is expected to rejoin the lineup in Week 17. His return kills any daily fantasy appeal for Andre Williams.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Giants RB Andre Williams (shoulder, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 17. Rashad Jennings is probable, so Williams has already lost his Sneaky Start appeal.
Sunday, December 21, 2014, 2:33pm
Andre Williams draws the start and will carry the load at RB.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 16. Jennings has been ruled out. Andre Williams will be a decent start against St. Louis, though he’s only averaging 2.88 YPC against all teams not based in Tennessee. He’s a workload play, not a matchup/production play.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) missed practice again Thursday. Consider Jennings doubtful to play in Week 16. Andre Williams will be a decent start against St. Louis.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 5:57pm
Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Consider Jennings doubtful to play in Week 16. Andre Williams will be a decent start against St. Louis.
Giants running back Rashad Jennings received the first snap of the Giants' opening drive on offense, carrying the ball for three yards, and did not play a single snap after that. Jennings originally hurt his ankle two weeks ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was expected to split carries for the second straight week with backup running back Andre Williams.
Williams replaced Jennings against Washington and figures to get a bulk of the workload going forward if Jennings has to miss more time. At this point, with the season lost, it seems like there's a good chance the Giants will take it easy with Jennings to see more of what they have with the rookie Williams at RB.
Giants Beat: RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) not on injury report, to 'carry more of a full load' in Week 15Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 1:28pm
Tom Coughlin said RB Rashad Jennings, who is not on the injury report, should be able to carry more of a full load this week.
We're not exactly sure what "more of a full load" means, but the fact that Jennings isn't even on the injury report means that he should be able to resume his role as lead back. However, Andre Williams played very well against the Titans, so he should see at least 8-10 carries if the Giants are able to run the ball against Washington.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle, questionable) returned to take limited reps Friday after missing practice earlier in the week and is questionable for Week 14. HC Tom Coughlin wants to see how Jennings responds to the limited practice. Jennings said that he’s not close to 100 percent, so he may be in a timeshare even if he does play. If he can’t go, Andre Williams will be a Sneaky Start against one of the league’s worst rush defenses. The Giants play early on Sunday.
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