RB Orleans Darkwa had a breakout season for the Giants in 2017:
Five seasons into his NFL career, running back Orleans Darkwa still had plenty to prove. The 25-year-old had just 75 career carries on his resume for 287 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
Darkwa's opportunity to break through finally came in 2017.
After starter Paul Perkins injured his ribs during a Week 4 loss to Tampa Bay, Darkwa emerged as the featured back the following week. Against the Chargers in Week 5, Darkwa rushed for 69 yards on eight carries, including a 23-yard first quarter touchdown, the longest score of his career to that point. The following week in Denver, Darkwa exploded for 117 rushing yards on 21 carries in a 23-10 Giants win over the Broncos. The effort entrenched Darkwa as the go-to guy in the Giants backfield.
By season's end, Darkwa finished with career highs in in carries (171), rushing yards (751), yards per carry (4.4) and touchdowns (5). He ended the year with his best effort of the season, a 20 carry, 154 yard game in a Week 17 win over Washington.
After fighting through injuries early in his career, Darkwa credits his breakout season to his ability to stay on the field.
"I learned a lot as far as how to take care of my body," Darkwa said. "That's the biggest thing. Getting that many carries you know is a big task, especially in the NFL as a running back getting a lot of carries like that is pretty big. So I invested a lot of time taking care of my body and physical therapy, things of that nature and trying to get stronger as the season keeps going."
Darkwa's career season came despite constant reshuffling on the offensive line. Ten different linemen started for the Giants in 2017. But Darkwa says that didn't hold him back one bit.
"Obviously the guys blocking for me – with the offensive line and even the tight ends and the wide receivers – the wide receivers spring the big plays as well," Darkwa said. "It was definitely a credit to those guys the season that I had and the season that we had as far as the running back group."
Now comes a critical offseason for Darkwa, who's extra motivated to build off his career year.
"I feel like yards after contact is a big thing for me and always pushing the pile when there's not a hole there to keep going," Darkwa said. "I want to work on receiving, catching the ball, running routes – things of that nature. Pass protection. I'm not perfect at anything. I'm just trying to make sure I go out there trying to perfect my skillset and improve the things that I'm weak at. We have the offseason to do that so I'm looking forward to it."