Rashad Jennings has a been a lot of things for the Giants during his first five games with New York: workhorse, pass protector, the man who has revitalized a dormant running game. But on Sunday, after a knee injury took him out of Big Blue’s game against Atlanta and left Andre Williams as the primary ball carrier, he added another role to the list — mentor.
“I was yelling, coaching [Andre] up from the TV,” Jennings said after the game. “I know what he was seeing, I know what he was thinking, so I’m proud of him. Like I said, he’s a guy that came in and kind of has been under my wing as soon as he stepped in the door, so I’m happy to see him get his feet wet and continue to grow. He’s going to be a dominant player in this league.”
Jennings injured his left knee on a five-yard run as he got tangled up in a pile of bodies. He said he’ll his MRI results indicated an MCL sprain.
“I just kind of got ruffled up under the pile a little bit,” said Jennings, who was taken into the locker room and didn’t reappear for the rest of the game.
Despite Williams’s encouraging performance in the second half on Sunday, that’s welcome news for Giants fans. Jennings has been nothing but reliable for New York thus far — not the most explosive player in the league, but with underrated speed, constantly churning legs and the ability to always get the most of what’s blocked. Williams looked impressive while trampling Falcons defenders, but he’s still young and has to work on his vision; there were a couple of runs the rookie tried to bounce to the outside, the kind of impatience that won’t work in the NFL.
But the main reason Jennings’s health is important is depth. With the retirement of David Wilson this offseason, the only man remaining behind Williams if Jennings can’t go is Peyton Hillis — a solid veteran, but a guy with not much left in the tank who saw entirely too much playing time during the disaster that was last season. If Jennings is out for more than a game or so, it will be interesting to see if the Giants look to add a guy to spell Williams as a back-up.