Following a disappointing 30–12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Giants are facing the challenging task of compensating for the absence of star running back Saquon Barkley. With only 150 total offensive yards, of which a mere 29 came from the ground game, it’s apparent that the Giants need a new strategy to bolster their rushing attack.
With Saquon Barley sidelined due to injury, the Giants faced a daunting question: who would step up in the backfield? Drafted in the fifth round of the 2023 draft, rookie Eric Gray emerged as a promising candidate to fill this void.
Eric Gray was absent from the Giants’ game plan
While it was expected that Gray would receive some snaps behind veterans Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell, he surprisingly remained absent from the game plan and received zero snaps on offense. However, his impressive performances on special teams suggest that Gray possesses the skill set necessary to contribute effectively in the backfield.
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Gray has been developing on special teams
Despite limited opportunities on offense, Gray has played 20 snaps on special teams and has showcased his abilities as a punt returner. His ability to navigate through defenses has proven to be a game-changer. In Week 2 against the Cardinals, Gray’s scamper for 14 yards in the fourth quarter significantly contributed to the Giants’ touchdown-scoring drive, providing them with advantageous field position.
Not only does Gray possess excellent physical attributes, but he also exhibits exceptional decision-making skills. His wise decision to call for a fair catch just outside of the goal line in Week 3 against the 49ers was a prime example of his football intelligence. This allowed the offense to start their drive on the 25-yard line, giving them a better chance to score. Gray’s ability to make quick and smart decisions on the field is a valuable asset that the Giants should leverage.
Gray was a college standout
During his college career, Gray consistently displayed his prowess as a running back. Despite being a part of a running back-by-committee system for his first two years at Tennessee, he managed to accumulate an impressive 1,311 rushing yards on 258 carries. Additionally, he proved to be a reliable receiving threat, amassing 369 yards on 43 catches.
Gray then transferred to Oklahoma in 2021, where he further showcased his potential on the field. In his senior season, he exploded with 1,366 rushing yards on 213 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. His ability to consistently find openings in opposing defenses and make explosive plays makes him an ideal candidate for an increased role in the Giants’ running game.
Flashing abilities as a rusher in the preseason
Despite displaying exceptional skills and playmaking abilities, Gray hasn’t taken any snaps out of the backfield since the summer, and his performance in the preseason should not be overlooked. His muscle-driven nine-yard touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the preseason demonstrated his ability to power through defenders and find the end zone.
It’s time to give the rookie some run
Big Blue has an untapped resource in Eric Gray. With Saquon Barkley likely to miss Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Giants must consider utilizing Gray to bring life to their run game. Gray’s versatility and explosive plays can provide a much-needed spark to the offense. By incorporating Gray into the offense, the Giants can add a new dimension, diversify their strategies, and even provide valuable support to Barkley when he returns.
Gray’s playmaking ability makes him a valuable asset that should not go unnoticed. With the coaching staff’s trust and guidance, it’s time for Gray to shine and establish himself as a force to be reckoned with on the Giants’ roster.