New York Giants: Who Will Come Back From Injured Reserve?

New York Giants sign former Dallas Cowboy, Rod Smith.

The New York Giants have been lucky to avoid long term injuries to major players this offseason, with Sterling Shepard set to make a return in week one after being injured with a fractured thumb at the start of training camp, but that doesn’t mean the team is going into the 2019 season in perfect condition. The team has some players on the injured reserve list after the 53 man roster was released, some of them more notable than others.

The team will be able to bring two players back from IR after week eight, but the rest of the players on IR will have to miss the season. Cornerback Sam Beal managed to avoid making the list despite missing the end of training camp and the preseason with an injury, and Sterling Shepard recovered soon enough from the fractured thumb to avoid having to go on injured reserve.

But the team does have five players on injured reserve – Jonathan Anderson, George Asafo-Adjei, Brittan Golden, Scott Simonsen, and Rod Smith.

Out of all of those players, the one that had the most playing time last season was Scott Simonsen, who the team utilized over Evan Engram at some points in the season when Engram struggled with injuries and had a hard time bouncing back and getting back into the swing of things later in the year.

However, it’s unknown if Engram will have the same problem with usage this year and Simonsen also has Rhet Ellison to compete with, meaning that bringing him back might not be the highest priority for the Giants when it’s time to pick two players after week 8 to return to the active roster.

Rod Smith seems to have fallen out of the backup running back competition following performances from Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman, so it’s unknown if the Giants will want to bring back a fourth running back midseason.

While Jonathan Anderson is at the important position of inside linebacker, Anderson is also about dead last in the depth chart for the position – which means the most likely option might be the team bringing back Brittan Golden and Asafo-Adjei, both players playing positions of need at receiver and tackle respectively. The Giants could use depth in both areas and despite not being the most obvious choices, both players have survived this far in the hunt to not end up eliminated from the roster, and provide depth in key areas.

New York Giants: 3 players that could somehow survive the roster cut

New York Giants, Paul Perkins

The New York Giants and head coach Pat Shurmur have plenty of difficult decisions to make on Saturday before the roster cut deadline. At 4 PM, the roster must be cut down to the final 53-men.

There are a plethora of players fighting for their lives to ensure they earn a spot on the active team, and some of them will be left without a job and looking to latch on elsewhere.

Three New York Giants players that could survive the deadline:

1.) RB Paul Perkins

Fourth-year running back Paul Perkins is fighting to earn another chance with the Giants. Having been injured all of last season, he certainly doesn’t hold any advantage or leverage.

Perkins was thought to be the future for the Giants at running back after he rushed for 456 yards and average 4.1 yards per carry during his rookie season. His elusiveness and ability to make tacklers miss in open space provided optimism for the team moving forward.

The 24-year-old is coming off a season where he tore his pectoral muscle lifting weights. This opened the door for general manager Dave Gettleman to draft Saquon Barkley and inject him into an offense that badly needed a star running back. However, Perkins can still be of use in a limited fashion. While he’s not the most productive runner in the “I” formation, he’s a solid back in regards to running back screens and pitch plays. He is currently battling it out with Rod Smith for the reserve back spot behind Barkley and Wayne Gallman.

Acting as a glorified scar-back, Perkins can still be of use. Smith has had serious fumbling issues this off-season and is losing ground with every passing day. The final preseason game against the New England Patriots will be very telling of what is to come on Saturday.

2.) LB Josiah Tauaefa

The undrafted linebacker out of Texas-San Antonio has been a revelation for the Giants defense this preseason. While his name hasn’t been called frequently, that is likely because he has featured towards the end of games when the second and third stringers have already taken over.

PFF graded him with an 86 .8 rating, the seventh-highest grade for rookies so far. He has earned 12 total tackles, one sack, and a special teams tackle throughout the preseason.

Looking a lot like Troy Polamalu (physically), Josiah seems to have a chip on his shoulder and is fighting for an opportunity to play with the Giants. While it is unlikely he earns a roster spot, he could be a practice squad body for the time being.

He has made waves and should earn more reps in the final preseason game against New England. Again, his performance will be very telling and give the Giants brass a better understanding of what he has to offer during the 2019 season.

3.) WR Reggie White Jr.

If Reggie White Junior manages to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, there is one specific play that could have earned him the role. The Monmouth product has above average ball skills, and he has shown that during the preseason with 100-yards receiving over six receptions.

Daunting the No.13 jersey, formerly owned by Odell Beckham Jr., White Jr. has high expectations for himself and what he can accomplish with the Giants moving forward. In addition to his past catching skills, he has also made an impact on the special-teams unit, providing a fundamental block that sprung Brittan Golden on a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown.

“I loved the catch, don’t get me wrong,” White told NorthJersey.com. “But that block on the punt return, that’s the kind of play I know I need to make in order to make the team. I have to show that I can be valuable in everything I do, and that was a lot of fun, getting to celebrate in the end zone with Golden and everything, all about team right there. That’s a memory I won’t forget, and I think it shows I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

Overall, the Giants are thin at wide receiver and being that White Jr. has shown plenty in terms of value this preseason, he deserves to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. However, the final preseason game should give him the push he needs to get over the hump if the Giants brass aren’t entirely sold on his abilities.

New York Giants: New Undrafted Rookie Added To The Backup Running Back Competition

The New York Giants are still organizing their roster heading into the third week of the preseason. Their running back position is locked in with Saquon Barkley as the starter. Barkley lead the league in scrimmage yards last year with 2,028 yards en route to winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Behind Saquon Barkley, things are not as set in stone. There was a three-way competition for the second-string running back position, but this competition has now grown to a four-way.

Initially, the job battle was between Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith. All three have flashed their potential but also shown great weaknesses. Now, a new back has been added to the mix. Jonathan Hilliman competed hard in the Giants’ second preseason game and could make a push to remain on the roster this season.

Jonathan Hilliman Stats and Highlights:

Jonathan Hilliman was a locally signed undrafted free agent who finished his collegiate career at Rutgers. Hilliman’s first three years were spent at Boston College. Jonathan totaled 1715 rushing yards through his four-year career with an average of 3.5 yards per carry and 19 rushing touchdowns.

These are not overly impressive stats from Jonathan Hilliman, but he flashed enough potential for the Giants to sign him after the draft. And now, after an impressive first preseason game, Hilliman has flashed enough to propel himself into the conversation to make the final roster.

Hilliman received a team-high 16 carries on Friday night versus the Bears. Hilliman continued his average 3.5 yards per carry as he went on to total 56 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown. Jonathan lead the Giants in rushing yards and flashed his elusiveness a couple of times.

Jonathan Hilliman’s touchdown rush was a perfect example of what Hilliman does best. He is a shifty runner who can jump cut and slither his way through the holes to get into the end zone.

Hilliman played an impressive game, especially for his NFL debut. But this does not lock him in on the roster. He lead the team in rushing yards and carries, but his average yards per carry was only third of the runners. Paul Perkins averaged 5.8 yards per carry and Rod Smith averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

So it was a fantastic debut for the New Jersey native Hilliman, but he has a long ways to go and tough competition to win if he wants to be on the Giants’ roster in September.

New York Giants: Should Rod Smith Or Wayne Gallman Be The Runner Behind Barkley?

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman, Rod Smith

The New York Giants have arguably the best running back in the league with Saquon Barkley. Saquon won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018 behind a league-leading 2,028 total yards from scrimmage.

Saquon Barkley is a generational talent, but the Giants have a solid all-around backfield. Wayne Gallman has provided quality play as the number two back over the last two seasons. Despite this, the Giants added another running back into the mix in 2019.

The Giants signed former Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith earlier this offseason. Rod Smith was signed to be a solid depth piece behind Saquon Barkley, along with Wayne Gallman. Both players have been backup running backs their entire career and will have to compete to solidify themselves as the number two running back on Big Blue’s roster in 2019.

What Wayne Gallman Brings To The Table:

Wayne Gallman was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He was a solid running back in college at Clemson and looked to be a steal for New York in the middle of the draft.

Gallman has not found himself receiving extended playing time with the Giants thus far. Gallman was the 2nd running back on the roster in his rookie season. The Giants opted for veteran Orleans Darkwa as their starting running back in 2017. He went on to rush for 751 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Despite his limited playing time, Gallman flashed his potential in 2017. He ran the ball 111 times, gaining 476 yards on the ground with 4.3 yards per carry. Gallman also provided quality snaps as a receiver in 2017. He caught 34 passes on 48 targets for 193 yards, 5.7 yards per reception, and 1 touchdown.

Saquon Barkley can do it all, but the Giants need to be careful not to run him to the ground this early in his career. Gallman did not receive much playing time in 2018 due to Barkley’s incredible production.

In 2018, Wayne Gallman was limited to only 51 carries. He never found a major groove in 2018 as he did in 2017, averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. Gallman did, however, score his first rushing touchdown of his carer in 2018.

Wayne still added quality snaps as a receiver out of the backfield, though he lost reps there, too. His yards per reception improved to 6.4 yards, but he only caught 14 passes on 22 targets and did not score a receiving touchdown.

Wayne Gallman has been a solid backup running back for the Giants over the last two seasons. However, New York has added another running back to the mix.

Wayne Gallman has brought a nice balance of running and receiving abilities to the Giants’ backup running back position over the past two seasons. However, he will have to beat out Rod Smith for the second string position.

What Rod Smith Brings To The Table:

Rod Smith has been in the NFL for 4 years. He has only started in 2 games but has played as a second string running back in 31 games over the last two seasons.

The Dallas Cowboys had Rod Smith back up their exuberant, young running back, Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot has been one of the best running backs in the league since being drafted in 2016. “Zeke” was a First-Team All-Pro in his 2016 rookie campaign and lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2018.

Rod Smith had the opportunity to backup Elliot for the last two seasons. He is certainly used to playing behind an extra-talented running back, so backing up Saquon Barkley should be no problem for Rod Smith.

Smith struggled in 2018,  averaging just 2.9 yards-per-carry. However, he had a solid 2017 season averaging 4.2 yards-per-carry on 55 rushing attempts, totaling 232 yards and 4 touchdowns. Similar to Gallman, Smith has also demonstrated the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield.

In 2017, Rod Smith caught 19 passes on 23 targets. He racked up 202 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. This touchdown was an impressive 81-yarder scored against no other than the New York Giants.

Rod Smith was not as effective in 2018, which might be why the Cowboys decided to move on from him. He was not given many opportunities in 2018 with a decrease in carries and receptions. However, in a better offensive system with Pat Shurmur and the Giants, Rod Smith could see some quality playing time and impress as he did in 2017.

Barkley will continue to be an all-world talent for the New York Giants in 2019 and beyond, but it is imperative for the Giants to get the backup running backs in the mix in order to keep Barkley from wearing down.