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NFL: New York Giants' running back carousel keeps spinning

New York Giants RB Wayne Gallman Jr.
New York Giants RB Wayne Gallman Jr.
Amaar Burton
Modified 14 Nov 2020, 05:27 IST

When you use the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on a running back, the idea is that you can plug that guy in at RB1 for about five years -- hopefully a decade -- and not have to worry about that part of your football team.

The New York Giants had that idea when they took Saquon Barkley out of Penn State with the second pick in 2018.

As a rookie, Barkley gave the Giants everything they could've hoped for. He started all 16 games, rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns, and tacked on 721 receiving yards and four touchdowns. In Year 2, Barkley missed three games with an ankle injury, but was otherwise reliable in 13 starts, topping 1,000 rushing and 400 receiving yards.

While the New York Giants continued to struggle as a team -- going 9-23 in Barkley's first two seasons -- they at least had their franchise running back and focal point of their offense secured.

But then in Week 2 of this season, Barkley suffered the first major injury of his career. A torn ACL ended his season. Since then, the New York Giants (2-7) have been in flux at the running back position.

After Barkley went down during New York's game against the Chicago Bears, veteran RB Dion Lewis took over and led the team in carries the rest of the way, gaining 20 yards on 10 carries and scoring a touchdown.

Before their Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Giants signed Devonta Freeman, the former All-Pro running back for the Atlanta Falcons who was still on the free-agent market after the Falcons released him ahead of the season.

The Giants settled into a rotation of Freeman as the starter, backed up by Wayne Gallman Jr., who's been with the team since 2017.

Then in Week 7, Freeman suffered an ankle injury. Gallman stepped in as the starter.


In Week 8, the New York Giants promoted Alfred Morris from the practice squad. Morris is another former All-Pro whose prime was with Washington from 2012-14. Morris played well against his former team in Week 9, with 67 yards on nine carries, while Gallman had 68 yards and 14 carries with a touchdown.

Ahead of New York's Week 10 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Giants have placed Freeman on injured reserve. Trying to work his way back from the ankle injury, Freeman strained his hamstring.

With Freeman sidelined, Morris has been signed to the Giants' 53-man roster for the rest of the season.

How the New York Giants have replaced Saquon Barkley

At this point, the New York Giants have the same running-back-by-committee rotation that teams use when they don't have a franchise back like Saquon Barkley. That wasn't how this was supposed to go.

The team's leading rusher this season has been quarterback Daniel Jones, whose most famous run ended with him tripping over his own feet.

The New York Giants rank 21st in the NFL in rushing (106.0 yards per game). The RB-by-committee hasn't been terrible, but the team in general is still on pace to be one of the worst in the league. They could even wind up with the No. 2 pick again.

Published 14 Nov 2020, 05:27 IST
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