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RB Andre Williams standing out in Giants backfield

Posted Jun 3, 2016

Andre Williams discusses how his offseason training and health will help him have an impact year:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Andre Williams has posted some impressive numbers this offseason. He lost 12 pounds of fat and reduced his waist from 36 to 31½ inches.

“It was drastic,” Williams said of his body changes.

The Giants’ third-year running back hopes the reduction in those numbers leads to an increase in others, most notably his rushing total, which dropped precipitously when he was an NFL sophomore in 2015. The early returns are favorable as the Giants prepare for their final two weeks of their offseason program, including a minicamp that begins on June 14.

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“I feel like I’ve had a great spring,” Williams said this week after an organized team activity. “I think the offense came back as a whole as a more cohesive unit. I feel like we’re gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of the offense, and it’s showing in everybody. I feel like I’m definitely coming into my own.”

Coach Ben McAdoo has noticed Williams in the crowded Giants backfield.

“Andre just needs some reps,” McAdoo said. “He looks good right now. He’s moving around well. He’s fluid. He’s working a lot on catching the ball, and doing a nice job for us there. We’re spreading the reps around. It’s early. It is June, but we’ll see more from Andre when training camp rolls around and we get the pads on.”

The Giants and their fans saw a lot of Williams when he was a rookie in 2014. The fourth-round draft choice from Boston College played in all 16 games with seven starts, and led the team with 217 rushing attempts, 721 yards (a 3.3-yard average) and seven rushing touchdowns. Williams, who added 18 receptions, was the first rookie to lead the Giants in rushing since Joe Montgomery in 1999.

Last year, Williams again played in every game, but was not nearly as productive. He finished second on the team with 88 carries, but third with 257 yards, a 2.9-yard average. Williams ran for a season-high 43 yards in Week 2 vs. Atlanta, thanks to his season-long 35-yard run. He scored only one touchdown and caught just one pass all season.

Williams was part of a four-man backfield that included Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa. None of the runners really got in a groove until Jennings rushed for 351 yards in the season’s final three games.

“Last season was mediocre across the board,” Williams said. “We won six games. We were rotating four running backs. They were calling it a four-headed monster, but it was like the monster didn’t have any bark or bite. Everybody got a handful and nobody really had an opportunity to really lather up and do something.”

Williams could have been that back, but concedes he came up short.

“It’s my fault that I didn’t necessarily do enough to set myself apart and tell the organization that I was the guy,” he said. “I know this season that I want to get into the end zone as often as possible. I want to score a lot of points. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make that happen.”

He is confident his refurbished body will enable him to do that. It’s not just the weight loss and thinner waist. For the first time since joining the Giants, Williams has no concerns about his shoulder.

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“I messed it up my freshman year,” he said. “I got it repaired before my senior year. I had a year where I didn’t really have any issues with it. And then the last game of my senior year … it popped out after I got it repaired. Ever since then I’ve just been trying to rehab it. Doctors were telling me, ‘It looks like you’ve got bone spurs,’ or, ‘It looks like you’ve got arthritis.’

“Now, I realize everybody didn’t really know. They can’t tell your whole story. You’ve got to write it yourself. I don’t have shoulder issues anymore. I was able to get into some great training in the offseason, and it helped me finally overcome my shoulder issues. I feel like that in itself has opened up doors for me in terms of where I am mentally on the field and being able to focus more on what’s right in front of me.”

And that happens to be a challenge greater than the one he faced last year. The Giants have added two more players to their stable of backs, veteran Bobby Rainey and fifth-round draft choice Paul Perkins. The backs will compete for rosters spots and rushing attempts.

“We’re in a blessed situation, because the competition is truly friendly,” Williams said. “We’ve got a good group of guys. We look out for each other. We talk to each other, lift with each other, work with each other, and have a good time on the field together. We know it’s a business and not everybody will be here come season time. At the end of the day, that’s not my fault or his fault, because we’re all brothers here.”

Williams expects to be firmly in the mix when the regular-season roster is revealed.

“I feel stronger, more flexible and more agile than I’ve ever been,” he said. “I feel it in the way I move on the field. I think I’m physically a better player, but mentally a better player, too, because I’m confident. I can worry about what’s in front of me rather than being so internal and worrying about making it to the next play. I can worry about the play at hand.”

And hopefully make it a big one.