The Giants’ re-signing of Orleans Darkwa to a modest one-year deal this spring was a blip on the radar compared to the splashes Jerry Reese made with Brandon Marshall’s free-agent acquisition and a blockbuster contract extension for Jason Pierre-Paul.
But Darkwa, 25, now is splitting first-team reps with presumed starting running back Paul Perkins and seeing even more work than usual with Shane Vereen hobbled and unavailable. And with Rashad Jennings gone and veteran Shaun Draughn (foot) also not practicing, Darkwa quietly seems to be challenging for a feature role.
“I’ve said this for years now: At the end of the day, my mentality is to want to be the starter on this team and be an impact player on the offense,” Darkwa said after Thursday’s practice. “That’s not gonna change. That chip on the shoulder is not gonna go anywhere. So I’ve just got to prepare myself like that and keep getting better.”
Darkwa, a fan favorite the Giants signed off Miami’s practice squad in 2014, has shown flashes of production as a runner in the two-and-a-half seasons and 33 regular season appearances.
He has averaged 4.01 yards on 71 carries as a Giant (285 yards) and scored four touchdowns. That included 10 carries, 53 yards and a TD in Week 3 against Washington last season, and 12 carries, 48 yards and the Giants’ lone TD in Week 4 in Minnesota.
Giants running back Paul Perkins has the greatest potential of any Giant for a second-year breakout. The key for the 2016 fifth-round pick is opportunity.
Perkins spent most of his rookie season backing up veteran Rashad Jennings before finally taking over as the starter in Week 17. With Jennings released this offseason, Perkins enters the season as the Giants' unquestioned No. 1 back.
In an uncharacteristic move, Giants coach Ben McAdoo named Perkins the starting running back this spring. That's a strong indication of how much the 5-foot-10, 208-pounder is valued. As long as Perkins proves that he can handle the increased responsibility, he should be the team's top running back all season, the story said.
RB Rashad Jennings is still without a team after the Giants released the tailback in February, but expects to be employed by the time the season kicks off. In fact, he believes his offseason of dancing and touring will actually help him secure a spot on some team's roster.
"I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm always going to be in shape," Jennings told The News & Advance, while hosting his 180 Weekend in Lynchburg, Virginia. "That's what I'm known for across the league. A team knows they're going to have a player that's going to be in the best shape of their life."
Jennings may have to wait for an injury to take place, which always seems to happen before the season start. As the story pointed out, he's coming off one of his worst statistical seasons, running for just 593 yards at 3.3 yards per carry.
Giants RB Paul Perkins appears to have the coaching staff sold based on what he did last season and this spring.
“Well, what he’s shown is … in our system you have to have three phases: You have to be able to run the ball. He was an effective runner last year,” running backs coach Craig Johnson said. “You have to be able to catch the ball. He did a good job in that. And you have to be able to block people, because they are going to try you out. He probably improved the most in that situation. Guys were going to test him out to see if they were going to get to the quarterback. He held up very good in protection and he’s continuing to do that.
“If you can do that, that allows you to be a guy that it’s possible to stay on the field all three downs.”
Vereen may change the situation slightly this year. He was subbed in on most passing downs for the Giants the previous season, when he caught 61 passes.
But this year could be different. Perkins may just be viewed as the feature back the Giants have lacked in recent years.
“I really like what Paul Perkins has been doing so far,” Johnson said. “He ended last season playing like a guy that is ready to take over the job. There is nothing so far in the offseason to show he’s not going to be able to handle that role.
“But that is today. It’s a long way from today to the opening game.”
We expect Vereen to get most of the passing down work since he excels in that area and has more experience than Perkins. If Vereen were to get injured, it sounds as if Perkins would take on his role on passing downs.
The Giants’ salary cap cuts will include running back Rashad Jennings, ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan reported Monday.
Related players: Paul Perkins
Jennings' release opens the door fully for Paul Perkins to become the RB1 in 2017. He averaged 15.4 touches for 67 total yards over the final five games of the year.
On Wednesday, Raanan said there was a "good chance" that Perkins would start against the Packers. He has out-carried Jennings 36-to-27 in the last two games, and has out-gained Jennings 170-to-96 in the same span. But it's unlikely that the Giants completely hand the RB1 job to a rookie in an elimination game against the Packers. Perkins is the better play this week, but Jennings is likely to stay involved.
Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib also landed on IR with an elbow injury.
Vereen, 27, had his season derailed by the triceps he originally tore in his left arm during a Week 3 loss to the Eagles. He was placed on IR and later activated prior to a Week 14 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. He left that game early with a concussion but returned for Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions.
Vereen could be seen with his left arm dangling after he lunged for a fourth-quarter pass against the Lions. He also fumbled earlier in the contest near the goal line after being sandwiched by a pair of Lions defenders near the goal line. Bobby Rainey should see time as the team's pass catching back. Paul Perkins is trending up and split carries with Rashad Jennings last week, the first time the two split the workload. They should continue to see the bulk of the workload running the ball.
Giants RB Paul Perkins has shown that he can be an impact player, so it's time to take off the training wheels. With two games remaining in the regular season (and a likely playoff run), McAdoo needs to make Perkins the featured back.
Sunday's 17-6 win over the Lions should serve as the final piece of evidence that Perkins brings more to the offense than veteran Rashad Jennings. Perkins had 56 yards on 11 carries (5.1 ypc), while Jennings managed just 38 yards on 11 carries (2.1 ypc).
The story added those numbers only served to confirm the eye test. Although smaller, the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Perkins runs with more authority. He hits the hole, makes one cut and then has more elusiveness at the second level. There's evidence that Perkins' role could increase, the story also said, as Perkins and Jennings each played 25 offensive snaps on Sunday. That's the first time season that Perkins has matched Jennings' snap count in a game they both played. Jennings has played 54.2 percent of the snaps compared to 35.8 percent for Perkins since Week 7, when the backfield essentially became a two-man committee.
The versatile and running back was a limited participant in practice all week. He only took part in the non-contact portions of the workouts.
Vereen will have to battle Jennings and Perkins for carries but should resume his role as the team's third down back ahead of Rainey. Vereen is much safer in deeper PPR leagues.
Giants running back Shane Vereen's comeback was brief.
Vereen returned to the lineup in Sunday's 10-7 win over the Cowboys after spending the previous nine games on injured reserve with a torn triceps. But Vereen lasted only three plays on Sunday before leaving with a concussion.
The Giants announced a few minutes later that Vereen was out for the game with a concussion. Coach Ben McAdoo stated that Vereen is in the NFL's concussion protocol during his teleconference on Monday afternoon.
Vereen's lone touch came on a 10-yard catch early in the second quarter. His head was driven in to the turf on a tackle by Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Vereen appeared woozy when he got up and he immediately left the game. The Giants had hoped Vereen could inject some life into their struggling offense. All three of his snaps on Sunday came on third down. Bobby Rainey took Vereen's spot in the two-minute offense late in the first half, while Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins played the majority of snaps at running back.
The Giants today welcomed back an important offensive weapon for their stretch drive.
He will be in uniform tomorrow when the 8-4 Giants host the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have four games remaining. They host Detroit next week before traveling to Philadelphia and Washington for their final two games.
Vereen should see his usual time on third down as well as be a change of pace back to Rashad Jennings. Paul Perkins may also continue to be a factor on offense as well, and earlier this season wasn't necessarily too involved when Vereen was healthy. Vereen should have some PPR value but maybe wait and see before plugging him in lineups this week.
Related players: Rashad Jennings
Vereen may be a forgotten player in your league as reports came out early after his injury he was done for the year. But a possible return next week may be a good enough reason to take a shot on him if he's on your wire, especially in PPR leagues. Vereen was averaging about 13 touches in his only three games of the season, and that actually included over 10 carries a game.
Friday, October 21, 2016, 6:26pm
Giants RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) took full practice reps all week. Jennings handled 13 of the team’s 25 running back touches last week, but should see his share increase this week after a full week of practice.
Thursday, October 20, 2016, 6:10pm
Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 6:41pm
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