The New York Giants added to their backfield on Wednesday by signing Elijhaa Penny off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad. To make room on the roster, the Giants placed Jon Halapio on injured reserve after the starting center suffered fractures to his lower leg and ankle in the third quarter of the Sunday night game in Dallas. Halapio underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injuries.
Penny, who recently converted from running back to fullback, played all 16 of his career games last season in Arizona. He rushed 31 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including eight carries for 24 yards and two first downs against the Giants in Week 16. Penny also had four receptions for 38 yards on the year and added 11 tackles on special teams, the fifth-most by a running back in the NFL.
Originally signed as an undrafted rookie in 2016, Penny spent the entire year on the Cardinals’ practice squad before making the active roster in 2017. He re-signed on a one-year tender in April but was released during final roster cuts on Sept. 1, landing back on the practice squad the following day.
Penny played in 23 games (14 starts) in two seasons at Idaho after transferring from Cerritos (Norwalk, Calif.) College. He totaled 1,748 yards and 22 touchdowns on 385 carries with the Vandals while adding 39 receptions for 346 yards and three scores. In his first season at Idaho in 2014, he rushed for 12 touchdowns, the most by a Vandals player since DeMaundray Woolridge had 18 in 2009. Prior to transferring to Idaho, he ran for 1,338 yards on 199 carries and scored a school record 20 touchdowns as a sophomore at Cerritos College. He was named first-team All-American and the Northern Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
His brother, Rashaad, was a first-team All-American running back at San Diego State and led the NCAA with 2,248 rushing yards in 2017. Rashaad was drafted by Seattle in the first round (27th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Early in that same round, the Giants drafted Saquon Barkley with the second pick. Penny now joins him in the Giants’ backfield along with veteran Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman and Shane Smith, another fullback. Directly in front of them will be a new center as the Giants prepare for their Week 3 trip to Houston. Eleven-year veteran John Greco replaced Halapio after his injury, and the Giants also have Spencer Pulley, who signed two weeks ago after starting all 16 games at the position last season for the Los Angeles Chargers. “We’ll start with John and then obviously get Spencer ready to go,” Shurmur said at the beginning of the week.