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Newcomer Orleans Darkwa likely to have significant role in offense

Miami Dolphins running back Orleans Darkwa rushes past

Miami Dolphins running back Orleans Darkwa rushes past Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Kelcie McCray during the second half of an NFL preseason game in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 Photo Credit: AP / Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Orleans Darkwa grew up in Nashville rooting for Steve McNair, Eddie George and the Titans. He even had a chance to attend a handful of Titans games at LP Field when he was living there.

Being a premier high school player in the area at the time, of course he allowed himself to dream of the possibility that someday he would be down there on that grass, carrying the ball in the NFL like George.

On Sunday, that dream might come true.

Darkwa is the Giants' third-string running back, signed off the Dolphins' practice squad on Nov. 12. He hasn't taken a handoff for this team yet, hasn't even played an offensive snap. But if starter Rashad Jennings is unable to play because of an ankle sprain he suffered last week (he's listed as questionable), coach Tom Coughlin said Darkwa will back up Andre Williams. In that case, he'd almost certainly get a chance to play.

"I've thought about it,'' he said, smiling at the possibility of starting his career as a Giants running back against the team he grew up rooting for in the city he grew up in. But, he added, he doesn't want to lose sight of the most important part of that ideal scenario.

"When I get there, it's going to be full focus on doing what I have to do and doing my part and trying to get a win for this team,'' he said. "Minimize the distractions as far as family coming to see me. We can do that after the game. My full focus is on the team and trying to get a win for the team.''

That's why, by early in the week, he had turned off his phone. He was getting overwhelmed by ticket requests from family and friends and put his parents in charge of that process.

Darkwa has played on special teams for the Giants in the last three games and made an impression on the coaching staff.

"He's done a nice job,'' Coughlin said. "He's been good on special teams, he's impressed everybody with how fast he's picked things up.''

"He came in, very levelheaded kid, smart, understands quickly and nothing is too big,'' special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said. "We had to switch him around with some injuries last week . . . We like his speed, he's trained well with the place he was before, so he is able to come in and contribute.''

Now, though, he seems to be on the verge of being an offensive player. He may be able to add a new dimension for the Giants there. While Jennings and Williams are big, straight-ahead runners, Darkwa is shiftier.

"He has a little different flavor back there for us,'' offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said.

Darkwa also can catch the ball well. In college at Tulane, he rushed for 2,953 yards and 39 touchdowns and added 77 receptions for 595 yards. Before he was waived and signed to the Dolphins' practice squad, he played in four games for Miami. He had four carries for just 2 yards but also caught three passes for 31 yards.

"Stay tuned,'' McAdoo said of how the Giants will use him. "We'll leave it at that.''

Darkwa's family won't have to be tuned in. They'll be at the stadium watching. By the middle of this week, he already was planning on getting about 20 tickets, and he knew that number would go up.

Most of those asking for tickets are, as he was, fans of the Titans.

"They'd better root for the Giants if I'm getting them the tickets,'' he said, laughing. "They're Titans fans, but at the same time, they're family, so they care about me. They're telling me they are rooting for me. I hope so."

And he hopes he gives them something to see.

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