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RB Orleans Darkwa thriving in increased role


RB Orleans Darkwa set career-highs in rushing stats in Week 6 and will look to repeat that performance:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Any doubts about how much confidence the Giants have in running back Orleans Darkwa evaporated in the fourth quarter last Sunday night in Denver.

As the Giants tried to bleed the clock and protect a lead that was 17 points at the start of the period and was later cut to 10, Darkwa carried the ball on nine of the Giants' first 10 plays in the quarter (the 10th was Von Miller's four-yard sack of Eli Manning). Darkwa gained 41 yards on those nine carries, including 19 on his final attempt, helping to set up a late field goal that secured a 23-10 triumph against the Broncos. "I'm blessed to have the coaching staff trust me in that situation to close out the game," Darkwa said this week. "Four-minute offense is one of the toughest things to do, because the defense knows what's going on. They know what to expect, you're going to run the ball. So it was a lot of tough runs. But I was fortunate enough on that last run to bounce it out and get a quick gain and burn some more clock out. I'm thankful for the coaches to give me that opportunity, and I'm hoping to continue it."

He will get the chance. Paul Perkins will miss his third consecutive game with injured ribs when the Giants host the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, so Darkwa should again get the majority of the Giants' rushing attempts. And the coaches are perfectly fine with that.

"He's running the ball well when he's had his opportunities," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He's done so, really since he's been here (arriving in 2014). He's a physical back. He's a big back. He has good instincts on where to go. He can read the hats up front and tie it into the scheme. He's done a nice job."

Darkwa, who made just his fourth start in 42 games, played the finest game of his career in Denver. He set career best in carries (21), yards (117) and longest run (47 yards). That run gave the Giants a first down on the Denver 13-yard line and set up their first touchdown, on a five-yard pass from Manning to Evan Engram.

"It was very good execution up front," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said of the 47-yarder. "It was actually a play that we have in various personnel groupings, and they gave us a look that was advantageous and just the techniques, the aim points. (Offensive linemen) Ereck Flowers, D.J. Fluker, Brett Jones, J.J. (John Jerry), Justin (Pugh), the whole crew. Rhett (Ellison) was the tight end, I believe. And then Orleans hit it with great discipline. Sometimes there are things that – aiming points are where we want the back to hit, and it might not look great and some guys, they start looking up ahead and they get impatient, or they get skittish. He hit it hard."

Although it was his longest run, Darkwa's 47-yard jaunt wasn't his most important of the game. That occurred midway through the fourth quarter, after the Giants' defense came up with a big goal line stand. The offense took possession at the one-yard line, always a precarious spot. But Darkwa quickly gave them some breathing room with a 15-yard run on first down.

"My first thought was, "get out of the end zone.'" Darkwa said. "Your mentality is a little different, because there is not much room out there. The defense is a little more aggressive going into that, because they want to get a safety. At the end of the day, there is not much. Most of the time, the defense is expecting the run. So that play specifically was a puncture, get downhill and get what you can run and luckily, it was a quick read, because you're close to the quarterback, and we were fortunate enough (to pick up 15 yards). The O-line did a great job. John Jerry picked up one guy, and once I saw that, there was a crease. Once I was out there I was like, 'Oh my God.'" So like I said, they did a tremendous job on that play and the whole game.

"If you get that crease, you could house it. For me, that's something that I've continued trying to work on. Making third level defenders miss or breaking tackles and things of that nature. So it's something I can improve on. But when they're all crowded up like that and they're playing single high, you have the safety in the box, if you hit that crease, you could be gone for a long time."

One benefit of a Sunday night game: the entire country gets to see you perform. When Darkwa returned to the locker room, he had 154 text messages.

"When we got on the plane, it was probably about 201," he said. "I try to reply to everybody. I'm thankful for everybody that was supporting me and watching the game. I'm just trying to make my family proud.

"But it's crazy how some people get my number. I don't know how they do, but hey, it is what it is. I'm thankful of anybody that is supportive of me."

If he keeps rung as he did last week, the bandwagon is going to grow.

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