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Giants roster preview: Is there a role for RB Bobby Rainey?

Let's look at the veteran running back as he competes for a spot in a crowded backfield

BObby Rainet during spring practices with the Giants
BObby Rainet during spring practices with the Giants
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Where does Bobby Rainey, signed as a free agent in April by the New York Giants, fit in a crowded backfield? Does he fit at all? Let's take a closer look at the 5-foot-8, 205-pound 28-year-old, who broke into the league with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2012, as we continue profiling the 90 players who will make up the Giants' training camp roster later this month.

2015 Season in Review

After carrying the ball 94 times for 406 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and catching 33 passes in 2014, Rainey was an afterthought for the Buccaneers in 2015. He carried the ball only five times and caught just three passes despite being healthy all year.

What was up with that?

"With Doug Martin as the lead back and Charles Sims as the change of pace guy, and neither of them missing any time at all with injury, there really wasn't room for him in the rotation," said Sander Philipse of SB Nation's Bucs Nation. "Both of those guys are definitely better than Rainey, so it makes some sense -- but yeah, most of us were scratching our heads a little at how little Rainey was used."

Martin was a first-team All-Pro, gaining 1,402 yards rushing and 271 receiving on 33 catches. Sims was Tampa Bay's equivalent of Shane Vereen, running 107 times for 529 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and catching 51 passes out of the backfield.

Thus, there was no room for Rainey in the backfield. He returned 29 punts for an average of 10.0 yards per return and 19 kickoffs for a 24.7 yards per return average, but fumbled eight times.

2016 Season Outlook

It is unclear whether there is actually a place for Rainey on the 2016 53-man roster. Is Rainey just a camp body? Is he an insurance policy signed before the draft because of the injury that caused Orleans Darkwa to miss the entire spring? Does he have a real chance to take a job away from one of the incumbents on the roster, or is his best chance to win a war of attrition and stick around only if other players get injured?

One thing that seems certain is that Rainey has an ally in offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Siullivan was Tampa Bay offensive coordinator when Rainey was acquired by the Buccaneers off waivers from the Cleveland Browns in 2013. Rainey played in nine games for Tampa Bay, starting six, that season. He carried 137 times for 532 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Rainey also caught 11 passes and did some kickoff and punt returning.

"Bobby Rainey is a young man to keep an eye on," Sullivan said during minicamp. "He's done a lot of good things both from a running standpoint — he has good vision, good acceleration — and he's an excellent receiver, so it gives us some good problems to have in terms of saying who's going to be the individual or individuals who are going to carry the football."

Still, Rainey seems to have landed in a situation similar to the one he was in a year ago. There is no All-Pro back like Martin, but there is a veteran featured back in Rashad Jennings. There is a quality third-down back in Vereen. There is a rookie draft pick in Paul Perkins who could take snaps from either Jennings or Vereen. There is another young back in Andre Williams whom the Giants have steadfastly said they aren't ready to give up on. There is also Darkwa, effective last season when given an opportunity.

Perhaps what we are left with then is the notion that Rainey is probably an insurance policy, and having an experienced back who has had some success in the league as a training camp insurance policy has to be a good thing. It wasn't that long ago that the Giants were forced to try and play young, out-of-their-element guys like Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox.