Sometimes, you wonder what NFL personnel experts are thinking when they allow a running back such as Andre Williams of Boston College to fall to the fourth round coming off a season in which he led the nation in rushing with 2,177 yards. But the Giants saw great value when they grabbed Williams, and he hasn't disappointed in the preseason.
Williams settled in quickly as the backup to starting running back Rashad Jennings, producing 151 yards on 33 carries for a 4.6-yard average and two touchdowns, including the game-winner last week against the Jets. After the starters get in a couple series of downs in tomorrow night's exhibition finale against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium, Williams should have ample chance to make Patriots fans wonder why Bill Belichick passed over the hometown hero.
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"We are playing the Patriots, and they were right in my backyard in college," Williams said Tuesday. "So it is pretty special for me, and it's also on my birthday, August 28. I'll be turning 22, and it's exciting.
"I've had a good amount of success, and I feel like, through my play and dedication, the coaches have built up some confidence in me to play a role on the field. So I'm excited."
After last season, when the Giants ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing offense, their coaching staff has to be excited about reviving the running game with free-agent acquisition Jennings and Williams. Much of the focus has been on the passing game in the West Coast offense new coordinator Ben McAdoo is installing, but the running game is averaging 123.5 yards per game, which is 40 yards better than last season.
"I'm confident in my ability to run the ball, and I think coach McAdoo has put together a great offensive scheme for us to really utilize our strengths," Williams said.
If there was a knock on Williams that caused him to fall as far as he did in the draft, it probably was his lack of experience receiving out of the backfield. So far in the preseason, he has just been targeted once without a reception.
"You have questions about how you're going to perform, and there's anxiety about different things," Williams said. "I only caught 10 passes in college . Would I be able to adjust to NFL quarterbacks throwing the ball? Everything happens for a reason, and I feel like God placed me in this position to take advantage of an opportunity. I really had to recognize I can play at this level, and I just need to continue to work at things I need to work on. It's not something I can't do."
Quite the contrary.
It's something that Williams looks as though he can do for a long time.