After signing with the New York Giants in March, Rashad Jennings quickly became the favorite to start at running back in 2014. The 29-year-old running back spent one year in Oakland following three in Jacksonville, and his signing was one of the more under-the-radar moves in the league this offseason. Let's see why as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp on July 21.
2013 Season in Review
After an injury-shortened 2012 season, Jennings bounced back with the Raiders last year to the tune of a career-high 733 yards (4.5 per carry) and six touchdowns in 15 games. He started eight games while Darren McFadden struggled with injuries, the most of any of the four seasons that saw Jennings mainly as a backup rusher.
Jennings was particularly effective for a three-game stretch in Weeks 9-11 where he rushed for 102, 88 and 150 games, respectively. The latter was due largely to an 80-yard touchdown vs. the Houston Texans in which Jennings took the snap out of the Wildcat, worked his way through a sizable hole and trucked D.J. Swearinger (or took advantage of some poor "tackling," your call) en route to the end zone.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Jennings was the No. 21 running back in 2014, 26 spots ahead of the Giants' top rusher, Andre Brown. Considering Oakland also finished with the fourth-worst offense, that speaks to the productivity Jennings found in his largest role yet. Next is extrapolating that to a fuller season, though as we'll discuss below, he likely won't have to be a feature back.
Jennings has never had the opportunity to be a feature back for a full season, but he won't necessarily have to be one in New York. While the Giants' running backs might individually seem underwhelming, the potential is there for a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" situation. David Wilson, when healthy and outside of the doghouse, is enticingly explosive. Fourth-round pick Andre Williams is a smart, powerful rusher who was one of the most productive backs in college football over the past couple of years. You could also do worse than Peyton Hillis in small samples, particularly around the goal line.
The group's collective ceiling, though, hinges mostly on Jennings. If he can become a feature back for the first time in his career, Wilson and Williams will face much less pressure to produce. Each of those guys holds particular skill sets, and the Giants would benefit greatly from being able to utilize each of the three as most appropriate.