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Giants roster preview: RB Andre Williams still in Giants' plans?

Where does Williams fit in crowded backfield?

Andre Williams carries the ball during minicamp
Andre Williams carries the ball during minicamp
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Williams was clearly the least effective player in the much-maligned, abandoned-much-too-late four-man committee the New York Giants used at running back in 2015. The numbers are stark. Williams averaged 1.5 yards less per carry than Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa, who combined to average 4.36 yards per carry while Williams averaged 2.9

The Giants have yet to see more than small flashes of the back they hoped they were getting when they selected the former Boston College star in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He led the Giants in yards rushing in 2014 with 721, but averaged a puny 3.3 yards per carry. Over two seasons, Williams has rushed 305 times for 978 yards, an average f just 3.2 yards per carry.

Let's look more closely at the former Heisman Trophy candidate as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp in just a few days.

2015 Season in Review

Williams regressed in 2015. After showing glimpses of becoming a capable NFL back with a couple of late-season 100-yard games in 2014, Williams was not good in his second season. His carries dropped from 217 as a rookie to just 88 and after catching 18 passes in 2014 he had just one reception in 2015.

Using its DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) formula, Football Outsiders judged only two of 105 running backs graded last season to be less effective than Williams.

There are a number of theories. Was he impacted by the four-man committee, simply not getting enough opportunities? Since he is not an adept pass-catcher, do teams crowd the line of scrimmage anticipating run up the gut when he is on the field? Does he need to be used more often out of single-back sets? Because there isn't a lot of what scouts call "wiggle" in his game, was he impacted by the struggles to get consistent blocking from the fullback and tight end spots? Does he just not have the vision or quickness to quickly identify a hole and hit it?

2016 Season Outlook

Rather than pare down the committee the Giants used last season, they added competition to the mix. They drafted UCLA's Paul Perkins and signed veteran change-of-pace back Bobby Rainey. Toss in UDFA Marshaun Coprich and that's seven guys for what will probably be four spots.

Where does Williams, coming off his sophomore stinker, fit?

The Giants' brain trust said repeatedly throughout the spring that they were not ready to toss in the towel on Williams.

"I think a lot of people may be willing to give up on Andre. I think it may be early for that," head coach Ben McAdoo said at the combine." I look forward to Andre bouncing back this year and having a bounce-back year."

Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan summarized the organization's stance on Williams with this comment prior to the commencement of OTAs:

"Very diligent, very competitive, and he's only a third-year player. We're looking forward to seeing the next step that he's able to take. There is a power factor, a size factor, a strength factor that he brings to the table."

Listed at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, Williams told reporters in the spring that he had dropped about 10 pounds and was lighter than he was when he entered the league in 2014.

Sullivan said the Giants have noticed, but that doesn't mean Williams is guaranteed anything.

"I think Andre, a little bit lighter, is hitting the holes better and we want to see where he progresses once we get into training camp," Sullivan said. "I do know he has lost some weight. He does look quicker. He's worked very, very hard, but again there's a lot of young men in that room and it's going to be a very good competition."

To be honest, where Williams ends up in that competition is anyone's guess. He could end up as the No. 2 back, as he was in 2014, resting Jennings and filling in if the veteran is banged up. He could end up out on the street looking for a new team.

We will just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.