New York Giants Running Back Coach Craig Johnson has a whirlwind of talent to work with for the upcoming season. The diverse group is full of viable starters, including go-to RB Rashad Jennings, who is coming off the best season of his career. He finished the season with 863 rushing yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. At age 31, he’s already had some solid experience in the NFL, but could this actually be his breakout year? Johnson is unsure if Jennings can rise to the occasion and handle playing all 16 games, but is confident that he will be a key part of the Giants running game.
“He has not had that kind of workload in his career. Obviously last year was his career best year, and so we have to determine that and that's why a lot of teams go more towards playing two, so they can have a guy fresh for your fourth quarter run, like in December when the postseason is on the line. So we'll start and we'll see how it goes. I certainly think the way he ended last year, he deserves an opportunity to go out there and be the starter, which is what he is. But there's going to be a lot of competition and he understands that, and I think he'll raise his game to that level,” Johnson said.
Jennings will be playing alongside the Giants other go-to RB Shane Vereen. He is set to have more opportunities this season and knows what it takes to get to the next level. Just last year, Vereen caught 11 passes for 64 yards and helped lead the Patriots to another Super Bowl title.
Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa will also play a key role, walking into their third season with the Giants. Rookie Paul Perkins is showing a lot of potential by impressing Coach Johnson with his sharp minded plays and football IQ.
Aside from the promising talent, many people are wondering how Johnson will improve their ability to close out games after a season filled with missed opportunities.
“At the end of the game we have to do a better job in the fourth quarter to be able to trust that we're going to be able to make the tough yards and that's what we're going through in practice right now. Trying to make sure that we get into the mindset that when the going gets tough, we're ready to step up and meet the challenge so that we're not a one-dimensional team and have to rely on the passing game to close the game,” Johnson said.