The New York Giants responded to the Saquon Barkley injury by signing Devonta Freeman. The former Falcons running back looks to be their starter for the rest of the year as Barkley’s ACL recovers. However, Freeman is one running back in a rotation of multiple. With the team’s best player out, it’s reasonable to assume the Giants will give more touches to their backup backs this year.
Who is manning those backup spots? Largely, that’s one new signing and one player that’s been with the Giants for the past three seasons.
Former Patriots and Titans running back Dion Lewis was signed during the offseason by the Giants. At the time, it appeared he was just a backup to Saquon Barkley. In this role, Lewis looked like a pretty good fit. After all, he had rushed for nearly 900 yards during his best season and while his performance fell off more recently, the Giants didn’t need him for a large role.
But Lewis might be getting more touches than expected thanks to the team’s current situation. This may be a chance for him to help revive his career. It’s been trending backwards for the past couple of seasons, but we have yet to see much of Lewis as a Giant.
During the 2019 season he fell from 517 yards to 209 while competing with Derrick Henry. It’s hard to tell just how much of that is because of Lewis himself, though. After all, Henry would be considered stiff competition to any back in the league.
In his two appearances for the Giants, Lewis has 11 rushes and 21 yards so far. Not the greatest numbers, but those may see a change. Lewis hardly would have expected to fill in for Saquon Barkley full time in week two against the Bears, but that’s what ended up happening. Presumably, being more mentally in the game next time will prevent such bad numbers in yards per carry.
The other main option behind Devonta Freeman is Wayne Gallman. Gallman actually predates Barkley but he’s only shown flashes of potential, never starring for the Giants. Still, there’s something impressive about his ability to avoid the cut. Even this season when the Giants brought in Lewis, Gallman was able to keep his job for another year.
With no Barkley in the picture and an unfamiliar free agent as the starter, Gallman may get a chance to touch the ball more – at least to trial his skills and see if he’s worth putting in the rotation. He had 476 rushing yards in 2017 but was never able to repeat the performance as Barkley came in and took over the top spot.
The following seasons, Gallman had 176 and 110 yards. Not enough to stand out, but those numbers have been enough to allow him to keep his job. Gallman only has one carry this season so far, in the opener. That was a 14 yard run, but peculiarly, he received no carries against Chicago even after Barkley was hurt.
Don’t expect Gallman to become the main option – but this season may just be a chance for him to justify his continued presence as a backup.