Elijhaa Penny, the newest member of the New York Giants, got into town at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. He took a physical at 10 a.m., participated in a walk-thru at 10:20 and by noon he was looking forward to his first classroom session as he tries to learn his new team’s offense.
Here are things to know about the Giants’ new fullback.
He thinks he can contribute on Sunday.
“If you give me just a small role or anything like that then I’m sure I can gradually go in there, pick up blitzes, things like that. Just give me my protection role and let me read the defense. Or if you need me to pick up a certain blitz or go in there and block the SAM or the MIKE, but as far as getting the whole playbook that’s gonna take some time.”
He started his college career at Cerritos College, a community college in Norwalk, Calif.
“Even though I had faith that I could do it you always question yourself. ‘Can I really go to the NFL from a community college? Are team really going to give me a chance for just playing two years at a Division I?’ You have all those things in the back of your mind, but I just feel like when you have faith and you have the drive I believe you can achieve anything you want to.”
He was a collegiate halfback at Cerritos and at Idaho, and offers some positional flexibility.
“(I) bring versatility. My blocking’s pretty good, I can run the ball if I need to and catch the ball out of the backfield. This offseason I lined up at running back, fullback and tight end. I feel like versatility is the reason why I’m here.”
Blocking doesn’t seem to bother the 234-pound Penny.
“I block just like I run the ball — physical. You’ve gotta be physical when you try to open holes for people. Blocking pretty much came easy. I had a really good running backs coach (Kirby Wilson and Terry Allen) out there in Arizona. I trusted the technique that was given and went out there and performed.”
Ed: What kind of player is he? Looks like he has versatility beyond just being a blocker.
Seth: Last year Penny made the roster and made an immediate impact on STs. Later in the season, due to all the RB injuries, he started getting carries and wound up rushing 31 times for 124 yards and a 4.0 average. His best performance came versus Washington where he rushed for 10/45 and his 1st TD.
The thing that sticks out about Penny is his rushing style. He is a power RB who hits the hole hard and then lowers his shoulder on contact to initiate the contact rather than absorb it. In his rookie season FS D.J. Swearinger used to complain (in a good way) about having to take on Penny in practice. Bringing Penny down is no easy task. He’s one of those power RBs who gets stronger with each carry.
Ed: Why did he get bumped to the practice squad after being on the 53-man roster a season ago?
Seth: The Cardinals decided to move him to fullback. He was competing with veteran Derrick Coleman and was unfortunately just a numbers game. Also, let’s not act like the Cardinals have created a good roster or made a ton of great decisions thus far.
Ed: Penny will or will not be a nice addition to the Giants backfield?
Seth: I think he has good ability as a backup running back, but he’s a very valuable and talented special teams player. I think that’s what he’ll do best first.
Ed: Anything you can tell us about what kind of guy he is or anything we should know about him personally?
Seth: When Penny, who wasn’t drafted, received his phone call from the Cardinals for a tryout, he wept following the call. His mother assumed that her son had received a contract offer from the Cardinals, thus Penny decided to assure his mom that he had. Following his tryout, it was a triumphant day for him when he was called upstairs and offered a contract and then congratulated by fellow idaho Vandal Mike Iupati.
He’s a hard worker, a great teammate and a kid that will endear himself to fans immediately for however long he is there.