RB Orleans Darkwa spoke with the media Sunday as the Giants' RB rotation is beginning to take shape:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Ben McAdoo reiterated today that Paul Perkins remains the leader to be the Giants' starting running back when the regular-season begins. But Orleans Darkwa is conceding nothing.
Perkins, the second-year pro from UCLA, started and ran for just three yards on five carries in the preseason opener vs. Pittsburgh. Preseason statistics are often dismissed by coaches, and that is exactly how McAdoo treated those numbers.
"I think at the running back position Paul Perkins has an opportunity to go out and establish himself," he said today. "I look forward to seeing him getting more carries as we go through the preseason and into the regular season."
Another running back, Shane Vereen, saw his workload increase in practice today.
"He was a guy we started slow with (because two triceps surgeries limited him to five games last season)," McAdoo said. "We built him up, he looks like he feels pretty good out there right now, and we'll continue to build him up, increase his workload."
The Giants are also taking a close look at fourth-round draft choice Wayne Gallman.
Darkwa played in 10 games last season before going on injured reserve with a lower leg injury. He finished with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. He's now healthy and confident he not only belongs in the mix, but can compete for the starting job.
"I think any running back, if you don't have the mentality that you want to be the guy, then what are you doing?" Darkwa said. "I try and go in there with that mentality that, obviously he (McAdoo) said he's the starter, but try to go in with the mentality that I want to be the starter and take his job. I think that pushes everybody. Obviously, he's not going to be complacent at that position. He wants to make sure he solidifies that spot, and every running back in that room is trying to do that same thing."
Darkwa's approach is simple, to control what he can control and let other matters take care of themselves.
"In the past couple of years, you always think about the roster bubble and making the 53," said Darkwa, who led the team with 18 rushing yards on three carries vs. the Steelers. "I came into this camp with a clear mind and just go out there and do my best. I don't worry about making the roster and all those types of things, just going out there and giving my best effort. Let the chips fall where they may. I'm just trying to do my best as far as making sure my health and my conditioning are on point. Those six weeks after OTAs were really crucial. I was actually in Miami with (former Giants back) Rashad Jennings. He obviously works hard so I try to follow in his footsteps in that aspect. They were a good six weeks and I'm trying to put it all on the table in training camp."
*Two days after their opener, the Giants practiced for two hours today. The biggest highlight was a play that didn't count. In the two-minute drill, Eli Manning threw a pass that Odell Beckham, Jr. caught with only with his right hand, delighting the large crowd. But the play had already been stopped because Manning was sacked – or, in the opinion of Ben McAdoo, would have been sacked, since no one actually touches Manning in practice.
"It's nice that it was completed, but no, it wasn't nice that there was a sack on the play," McAdoo said. "It's good for the defense."
The offense later reached the five-yard line, but Manning's pass for Sterling Shepard was intercepted by cornerback Donte Deayon.
*Speaking of Manning, he received his first extended work since Wednesday, since he did not play against Pittsburgh.
"Eli's been consistent, he's been productive," McAdoo said. "He had a few days off, he seemed a little bit rusty today. I don't know if that needs to be a headline, but I'm sure most of you may use it. It's an easy one. We need to get him back and get him some work. I know he's excited to get back to work."
*Shepard practiced fully for the first time since rolling his ankle on Aug. 2.
"They cut me loose today, so I am back to doing what I do," Shepard said. "I have been doing stuff leading up to this, so I felt like I was ready for a full practice."
*Defensive tackle Robert Thomas (soreness) and linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger) also returned to practice.
*McAdoo said the two players on the active/physically unable to perform list are "getting close" to returning to practice. Linebacker J.T. Thomas is rehabilitating his surgically-repaired knee, and running back Shaun Draughn has been sidelined with an ankle injury.
*Wide receiver Kevin Norwood left practice early with a hip injury.
*Linebacker Keenan Robinson remains in the NFL concussion protocol.
*Safeties Duke Ihenacho (hamstring) and Ryan Murphy (lower body), and wide receivers Tavarres King (ankle) and Kevin Snead (lower body) did not practice. Neither did tight end Colin Thompson (appendectomy).