New York Giants: Devontae Booker faces lonely running backs room

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

Devontae Booker has fallen into place as the top running back for the New York Giants as they head into a game with his former team. The Giants face the Raiders in week 9, but their depth at the running back position is cut down due to injury at the moment and Booker is the next man up for Saquon Barkley.

Barkley has been in doubt all week, and was confirmed to be out even after his positive COVID-19 test was revealed as a false positive. That’s because of the ankle injury that has kept the running back out since the Dallas game, and Booker will continue for another week as the starter in Barkley’s absence.

But Barkley isn’t the only one dealing with an injury. The Giants will also have to sit Gary Brightwell, who isn’t able to make it off the COVID-19 list in time to play in week 9.

The situation places a lot on Booker’s shoulders, and also makes for lonely days in the running backs room.

Devontae Booker speaks on running back depth

“I mean, it’s been pretty much me in there,” Booker said, laughing about the matter on Friday. “I’m looking around like, ‘where’s everybody at?’ But it’s been tough, but just got to learn how to work through it and be safe.”

Booker does have some company, though. But you have to go a bit far down the depth chart before you get to the current backup running backs for the Giants.

The main names are Sandro Platzgummer and Elijhaa Penny. The former is a player that has hung around the level of the practice squad earlier this season, and the latter is more of a fullback.

Booker says there’s been days where those two are his sole company at the position.

“There were days like that pretty much all of this week,” Booker continued, pointing out that even running backs coach Burton Burns is absent thanks to a positive COVID test.

Booker’s numbers have been improving somewhat in the past three weeks, as the running back rushed for 41, 51, and 60 yards in the past three games. In his last game out, he also picked up 65 receiving yards.

Against the Raiders, the Giants will surely rely on him more heavily due to their lack of depth in the run game. Considering how the Raiders are a team Booker is familiar with, this may just be an opportunity for Booker to have his biggest game yet with the team.

New York Giants: Devontae Booker speaks on scoring vs Cleveland

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

The New York Giants might have lost against the Browns after not playing their starters for the second straight game, but we did get a look at one player who might feature in a prominent role next season. Devontae Booker was active in the early game and will be a player of interest in 2021, due to his position as the likely top backup behind Saquon Barkley at running back.

Booker was brought in this offseason with most projecting that as his role over competing running backs Corey Clement and Gary Brightwell, and he arguably looked like the best running back for the Giants to feature in the Browns game.

While Clement beat out Booker with three more rushing yards to finish with 30 rather than 27, Booker was the only running back to score a touchdown for the Giants. It’s something he spoke about following the game, when asked about the way that he leapt over the line to complete the score.

Devontae Booker’s postgame comments

“Honestly, I just saw everyone on the ground. Typically, I am not a big leap guy, but I tried it today and it worked,” Booker told reporters.

Booker also praised the offensive line, an area of the team that has been a point of contention this offseason due to not having clear improvements from last year.

“They did pretty good. Executed on assignments they had out there, gave the quarterbacks some time and opening up some holes for me. I was just going up there and trying to execute my assignment, and when we all execute our assignments, it is perfect.”

The Giants haven’t executed yet in a way that wins them a preseason game. However, based on the playing time choices, it’s clear that the coaching staff doesn’t care much about winning in the preseason.

There’s not quite cause for panic yet. While the team is 0-2 going into their closing preseason game, the lineups they’ve played so far are a far cry from the one that will be on the field in September.

Individual performances are the thing to look out for during this preseason, and Booker put himself on the map as one of the standouts in this game alongside David Sills V, who continued his good form with the team’s other touchdown.

New York Giants: One underrated running back who could steal an active roster spot

corey clement, new york giants

Despite the New York Giants signing veteran running back Alfred Morris to a contract over the weekend, there’s one underrated RB who could make an impact on the 2021 season.

Former Philadelphia Eagles running back and Super Bowl winner Corey Clement joined the team this off-season on a one-year, $990K deal. Having signed on the Veteran’s Salary Benefit, his contract includes no guaranteed money, so the Giants could theoretically move on from him with no financial implications.

However, Clement offers value as an experienced back who’s deadly out of the backfield as a receiver.

Over the course of his career, Clement has caught 37 passes for 340 yards and two scores, posting an 80.4% catch rate. On the ground, he tallied 655 yards and seven scores, but only earned 21 rushing attempts last season with Philadelphia. He’s two years removed from having a campaign with 200+ rushing yards and 100+ receiving yards.

As a solid receiver, the Giants have the luxury of easing Saquon Barkley back to his normal self, as a team also signed former Las Vegas Raiders RB Devontae Booker. Booker is a solid reserve back who can carry the load in Barkley’s absence, but with Saquon ramping up his rehabilitation and looking near 100%, he could re-join the team in a higher capacity over the next few weeks.

Where can Clement contribute next season?

Clement excels in pass blocking, earning a 66.3 overall grade during the 2018 season when he was in his prime. Two poor performances dragged down his average, but was a quality blocker for his quarterback in pass pro. At 5’10” and 220 pounds, there’s no guarantee he will earn a starting spot on the roster, but he offers value in several categories the Giants could use more talent in. With Dion Lewis walking in free agency, Big Blue needs another receiver out of the backfield, and with Barkley’s struggles as a blocker, Clement can provide a helpful hand.

New York Giants Top News: Devontae Booker’s big role, Kenny Golladay represents more than just a WR1

new york giants, kenny golladay

The New York Giants are planning to ease star running back Saquon Barkley into live-action. After suffering a torn ACL, MCL, and partially torn meniscus, prioritizing his health is essential.

With the Giants doing Saquon Barkley as a long-term solution, they made sure to bring in a secondary back to help take the load off early in the 2021 season. The front office signed former Las Vegas Raiders RB Devontae Booker to a two-year, $5.5 million deal. Booker has a dead cap of $2 million this season and a potential out in the 2022 off-season.

Booker is more than capable of handling starting reps if Barkley is forced to miss any time. Last season over 16 games, Booker tallied 423 yards, three touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 84 yards. After fumbling seven times in his first three seasons, he’s only allowed the ball to break loose just once in the past two years.

Most consider him a supplement to Barkley as he finds his way back from injury, but head coach Joe Judge still wants to see the veteran compete during training camp.

Judge stated that Devontae Booker only has himself to worry about, outside of Saquon Barkley’s situation:

“I think Devontae has to worry about himself and not worry about where anybody else is,” Judge said before today’s training camp practice, his first in-person news conference in about 17 months. “We’re going to look to get contributions from all of our players, no matter who is available on the roster. Again, whoever comes to a game for us is going to play, alright? We’re not traveling guys to sit there and watch the game.”

The importance of Kenny Golladay ranges beyond his utility on offense:

The Giants signed Golladay to a four-year, $72 million deal this off-season. He provides quarterback Daniel Jones with a WR1.

Golladay offers something new to quarterback Daniel Jones, a top wide receiver he can depend on regularly. Jones has operated with lackluster talent at times. His top receivers were sterling Shepard and Golden Tate in 2020. Golladay is only one year removed from a Pro Bowl performance, recording 1,190 yards and 11 scores. As a big possession receiver who fits Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme, Golladay will make a significant impact immediately.

Standing at 6’4″ and 214 pounds, Kenny is an elite red-zone threat, a category the Giants struggled in last season. His importance to the offense is directly connected to Daniel Jones, who will undoubtedly reap the rewards of Golladay’s presence.

Why the New York Giants overspent on running back Devontae Booker

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

When it comes to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, caution should be exercised with his rehabilitation from my torn MCL, ACL, and partially torn meniscus in week two of last season.

Barkley has been working vigorously to make a return to the Giants and prepare for Week one in 2021, but the expectation is that the team and training staff will ease him along slowly, ensuring that he’s 100% healthy to start the campaign.

While the star back is making positive progress, an injury such as this can be problematic, as it involves multiple ligaments that experienced severe structural damage. The expectation is that he will miss a majority of training camp and might squeak in a few reps during pre-season to help him gain his footing after missing nearly a year of football activities.

Ownership remains optimistic that he will be a full GO come the start of the season, but the Giants made a supplementary move to help limit and mitigate Saquon’s loss and progression early on.

“We fully expect him to be as good as new,” Giants co-owner John Mara stated several months ago regarding Barkley’s rehab.

The Giants went out and signed Devontae Booker, formerly of the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. Booker signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Giants, including a $2 million signing bonus and $2 million guaranteed. You can make the argument that the Giants overspent on the career backup, having only started in seven games over five seasons.

Nonetheless, Booker offers a quality runner who can contribute in multiple facets, especially when it comes to supplementing Barkley and how the Giants plan to use him in 2021.

What does Booker bring to the New York Giants?

Last season, Booker played in all 16 games, earning 93 rushing attempts and logging 423 yards and three touchdowns. Through the air, he hauled in 17 receptions for 84 yards. He is an average receiving back with solid rushing capabilities but also represents an adequate pass blocker, which was a major weakness for the Giants in protecting Daniel Jones last year.

One of the factors that I like about Booker is that he’s only fumbled three times over the past three seasons, compared to Dion Lewis, the Giants’ back-up last year, who fumbled three times alone in 2020.

Booker also has value as a kick returner, taking 61 kickoffs in 2020 —  an underrated aspect he can contribute in. Ultimately, the Giants will likely need to ease Barkley into the season, as a structurally repaired knee requires time and guidance to fully recover from. For example, let’s reference Dalvin Cook in this situation, as he suffered hamstring injuries following his torn ACL after rushing his way back. If the Giants take things slow with Barkley and make sure he’s 100% ready to go, they can avoid any secondary injuries.

The Booker signing might’ve been a bit expensive considering the options on the market, but he is a solid player with value across the board as a kick returner, pass blocker, and adequate running back. In other words, he can get the job done in the Giants’ power-gap scheme, as he gets to the line of scrimmage faster than any other RB in the league from the “I” formation. Some consider Booker a 3-down back at the NFL level that was simply stuck splitting time with Phillip Lindsay and then backing up Josh Jacobs last season.

New York Giants: The running backs behind Saquon Barkley in 2021

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

The New York Giants will have a different rotation of backup running backs in 2021. The team moved on from Wayne Gallman after his best season by letting him walk in free agency, and most of the other names that manned the running back spot last season have been replaced. This should, hopefully, be a change for the better.

The team’s rushing performance left much to be desired last year, without Barkley. The Giants’ top weapon is expected to return for the start of the season, but if Barkley isn’t healthy for week one, this year’s lineup of backups may have more potential. The Giants have a number of names signed to the position, but three stand out in specific.

Devontae Booker

The number one name that the Giants signed to serve a backup role. Essentially, Booker is the player that the front office is betting will outperform Gallman. Gallman had his best season last year and the Giants still let him walk away to San Francisco, instead preferring this signing.

Statistically, Booker was a worse player last season compared to the one he’s replacing. However, he was only able to start in one game with the Raiders and also had less carries. It looks like his performance would have been on par with or exceeded Gallman if he’d had more time on the field.

Notably, Booker had 612 yards and 4 touchdowns as a rookie with the Denver Broncos. Just like the Giants signed John Ross at receiver, it seems like they’re betting on the player’s previous potential with this addition.

Whether that’s a good idea or not when the Giants had a chance to bring back a more proven player that had experience in their organization already remains to be seen.

Corey Clement

Corey Clement is the other new veteran addition and previously played within the division for the Eagles. This season, he’ll be making the swap to their rivals and comes off a season where he didn’t get to do much. He had 75 yards on only 21 attempts over 15 games, and his longest rush was only 7 yards.

However, he posted 321 and 259 yards during his first two seasons in the league before ending up on the injured reserve in 2019. This injury would be part of the reason why he had a limited number of rushes in 2020.

That’s not to say Clement doesn’t add anything. He may very well get on the field more in 2021 and had more special teams snaps than offensive ones. As Joe Judge comes from a special teams background, it’s very possible that Judge himself pushed for this signing due to Clement’s ability to help out both in the offense and in that area.

As part of a larger rotation, it looks like Clement is a promising new addition.

Gary Brightwell

Gary Brightwell is the rookie of the bunch, and could be another late round success story after the Giants selected him in the sixth round. He was a one year starter in three seasons with the Arizona Wildcats, and he has a reputation as a physical player who works well in zone running schemes.

Despite this skill in tight areas, though, one shouldn’t expect Brightwell to take the backup job by storm this season. Based on his college performances and the combine, most scouts only give him an average rating when it comes to his physical skills such as raw speed and agility.

You can expect Brightwell to have to spend some time getting used to the faster pace of the NFL and the more physical opposition, but we may see him get into the rotation more on special teams which would still be a successful season for a late round draft pick such as him.

Giants News, 5/17: Saquon not ready for week 1? Corey Clement a low-key great signing

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

As the New York Giants progress through spring and head toward summer, the team is preparing to take a step forward in their second season under head coach Joe Judge. After a successful 2021 free agency class and NFL draft, the Giants have added plenty of talent to help both sides of the football, but until they adapt to the scheme and host in-person training, they can’t put it to the test.

Thankfully, the Giants will have a full preseason to work with and in-person training rather than virtual to expedite their learning process. Last season, the Giants didn’t have much time together as a team, which forced them to utilized live games to iron out their mistakes and weaknesses. Ultimately, some of their issues dragged on throughout the season, which limited their production on offense specifically.

One of the major problems they faced was the loss of running back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL in week two against the Chicago Bears. While most believed he would be ready for the start of the 2021 season, co-owner John Tisch seemed skeptical when asked via TMZ.

Tish stated, “Saquon’s recovery is going well, and I think we’re very pleased with free agency and the draft.”

He also went on to say he doesn’t know if Saquon will be ready for the start of the year, which is likely why the Giants went out and signed Devontae Booker to a deal that most might claim as overzealous. They are paying Booker $5.5 million over two years, but he likely fits the scheme they plan to run and feel comfortable with him if Saquon is unable to play for whatever reason.

The New York Giants added another RB to compete:

Aside from Barkley and Booker, the Giants also hosted former Philadelphia Eagle Corey Clement over the weekend in a tryout. Clement has experience in the Super Bowl, making a few clutch plays that helped Philadelphia secure the victory. With that quality experience and some production in the past, the Giants felt as though Clement could be an asset for them during camp, at the very least.

Corey enjoyed his best season back in 2017 when he was 23 years old. Over 16 games, he recorded 321 yards on the ground, 123 yards through the air, and six total touchdowns. He didn’t turn the ball over during that season, showing solid production when called upon in both rushing and receiving.

Having a back who is capable of being utilized in various manipulations is always a benefit, considering he will likely be extremely cheap. The Giants will carry him through camp and see if he can push for a roster spot as a reserve back.

New York Giants ink bruising running back Devontae Booker to two-year deal

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

Despite having Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants felt as though they needed more running back support, invested $6 million over two-years on Devontae Booker, a 219-pound bruising running back.

With Barkley needing a complementary back to ease him back into regular play, Booker can fill that role and offer a solid RB2 to take some of the slack and short-yardage situations to mitigate wear and tear on Saquon.

Booker posted 432 yards and three scores last year with the Las Vegas Raiders, and at 28-years-old, he has a few years left of solid production left. Although, this was an interesting deal indicating the departure of Wayne Gallman, who filled in valiantly when Barkley went down in week two with a torn ACL last season.