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Orleans Darkwa Pushing Paul Perkins For No. 1 Running Back Job?

Is there a real competition brewing for that spot?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants
Orleans Darkwa
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo announced in the spring that second-year man Paul Perkins would be the team’s starting running back in 2017. Orleans Darkwa told me near the beginning of training camp that his goal was to change McAdoo’s mind.

“Even though McAdoo’s claimed that Perkins is the starter my mentality is to go and try to take that job,” Darkwa said. “That’s always been my mentality.”

Might that be working?

Darkwa had three carries for a team-high 18 yards in Friday’s preseason opener vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, including an 11-yard run. He has looked quick and decisive throughout training camp, which concludes on Tuesday.

Perkins had five carries for just 3 yards vs. the Steelers. While much of that was because of poor blocking, McAdoo was unhappy with Perkins’ inability to get more from a 7-yard run that looked as if it had the potential to be a big play.

“I’m considering them all for the job,” McAdoo said on Monday. “Whoever plays the best is going to get the ball.”

Asked if Perkins is still the starter, McAdoo said “he’s out there first.”

The coach then did something he rarely does. After considering the question and his response for a few seconds, he then expanded on his answer.

“By no means have I lost confidence in Paul Perkins. I have a lot of trust and confidence in him. He’s a young player who is working hard to get better and has a lot of value for us,” McAdoo said.

Final Thoughts

Darkwa has certainly earned the praise, and the consideration for a larger role, with his work during training camp. I’m not ready to make a big deal of this, though. McAdoo’s remarks, both Monday and after Friday night’s game, seem simply aimed at reminding a young player (Perkins) not to take his role for granted. He remains the big-play threat among Giants’ backs. I think McAdoo is just letting Perkins know he wants to be reminded of why he gave him the job in the first place.