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The New York Giants’ breakout player is ... fullback Elijhaa Penny?

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Well, that’s an unexpected choice

Chicago Bears v New York Giants
Elijhaa Penny
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

A fullback as a breakout player? A fullback? That’s what the New York Giants have in Elijhaa Penny, if you believe SB Nation’s Stephen White.

A former NFL player and contributor to SB Nation’s NFL page, White has ben tasked with naming potential breakout players for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. I was surprised by White’s choice of Penny, plucked off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad by the Giants before Week 3 of the 2018 season.

A tailback in college, Penny converted to fullback in the NFL. He carried the ball 31 times for 124 yards (4.0 yards per carry) for Arizona in 2017. Last season, he has seven carries for 25 yards and caught eight passes for the Giants.

White wrote;

I think Penny has a lot of room to grow overall, which makes me anxious to see what he can do in his second year in the offense.

I really don’t think the Giants were sure what they had in him when they picked him up, so over the course of the season they slowly expanded his role. Now that they have seen what he can do, and after he has had a whole offseason with the team, I expect that Penny will be a lot more involved in the game plan than he was last year.

White believes the Giants will use Penny more as a receiver.

Penny can catch the ball well, and he obviously can do a good job with blitz pickup. I know [Saquon] Barkley is going to get a lot of targets, but it just makes sense for the Giants to get Penny out on some routes as well. They don’t want to overwork Barkley and have him break down late in the season.

Besides that, Penny could be a very reliable outlet, especially on early downs when defenses are worried about Barkley running the ball.

During training camp we have seen Penny sometimes split out wide as a receiver, so maybe White is onto something.

Coach Pat Shurmur complimented Penny when asked about him recently:

“If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he’s a converted halfback. Just ask him, he’ll tell you. He’s fond of that. He’s a fullback. But the one thing about him is that if we have a dire situation, he can go in there and run the football. Just ask him, he’ll tell you. I’m very fond of him because he’s one of the people in this building that, in my opinion, has never had a bad day. He’s smiling. He may have had a bad play or a bad meal, but he’s never had a bad day. He’s a little bit of an inspiration to me because he just keeps going. He loves the game and he keeps playing. He’s done some good stuff for us.”

Are you buying White’s choice of Penny as a breakout candidate?