Fullbacks have not quite gone the way of the dinosaur in the NFL, but they are an endangered species. The New York Giants, though, have continued in recent years to be one of those teams that utilize a real fullback as at least a small part of their offense.
So, as we continue rolling through our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp let’s talk about Giants fullback Elijhaa Penny.
How he got here
Dissatisfied with the play of then-fullback Shane Smith the Giants signed Penny off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad just two weeks into the 2018 season. Penny ended up playing in 14 games for the Giants.
Penny played a limited role, getting only 90 offensive snaps. Only three qualifying fullbacks finished with run-blocking grades better than the 63.2 score Penny received from Pro Football Focus. Penny was only asked to pass protect on 23 snaps, but allowed two hurries and 10 fullbacks recorded higher PFF grades in that department.
A bulked-up former running back, Penny provided some versatility to the offense. He carried the ball seven times for 25 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and caught eight passes.
As usual with the Giants and the fullback position, the primary question is whether or not they will continue to carry one. If they do, Penny is likely their guy.
The Giants, though, do have options.
Rod Smith, signed as a free agent, is a 235-pound running back who has had some NFL experience as a fullback.
Tight ends Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson have shown the ability to lead block out of the backfield. Undrafted free agent C.J. Conrad can likely also do that.
Penny seems to be pretty good at what he does. We will find out just how much the Giants value that when they ultimately set their 53-man roster.