Some teams may be terrified of playing without their two top running backs. The Giants seem to be excited about the prospect.
Orleans Darkwa could emerge as the heavy lifter in the backfield this week against the Vikings. With Shane Vereen out after undergoing surgery on his triceps and Rashad Jennings working through a thumb injury that kept him out of Sunday’s loss to Washington, Darkwa may be asked to project the flashes he has shown in small doses to a much larger workload.
“Orleans always runs hard,” guard Justin Pugh said on Tuesday. “Even going back to last year, he puts his head down and he’s going to get some yards. I’m excited for him to get the opportunity. That’s huge, that’s something that you dream about, to be the starting running back. He’s going to have his chance on Monday Night Football.”
Darkwa has been just as productive as his more experienced teammates above him on the depth chart since the start of the 2015 season. During that time he has averaged 4.36 yards per carry to Jennings’ 4.27 and Vereen’s 4.42.
“He’s big and he’s fast,” said defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who faces Darkwa in practices and also played against him last year as a Jet. “You wouldn’t expect him to be as fast and as quick as he is with his size [5-11, 220] and he also has some good vision, so I knew once he got his opportunity [he’d succeed].”
Darkwa won’t have to do it alone. There is a chance Jennings will be cleared to play. The Giants also have Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins available at the position. And the blocking has been helping the running game quite a bit, too.
“The offensive line has been doing an excellent job of opening up holes that even I could run through,” Harrison said.
Might that be something we’ll get a chance to see if the running back depth becomes even more depleted? Snacks Harrison, all 350-plus pounds of him, taking a handoff?
“Hopefully Coach McAdoo needs that solid inch or that one yard,” Harrison said. “I think that if I put my head down I would be able to get it.”