During the offseason, Ben McAdoo took the unusual (for him) step of naming Paul Perkins the Giants’ starting running back. McAdoo, however, appeared to crack the door open a bit for other options on Sunday.

“At the running back position, Paul Perkins has an opportunity to go out and establish himself,” he said. “I look forward to seeing him getting more carries as we go through the preseason and into the regular season.”

This a day after McAdoo griped that Perkins should have gotten more than seven yards on his first run against the Steelers on Friday night. That might not be significant, but it could seem that way to at least one Giants player. Orleans Darkwa, settling in as the second-string running back, would love a promotion.

“I think any running back, if you don’t have the mentality that you want to be the guy, then what are you doing?” Darkwa said. “Obviously, he said [Perkins] is the starter, but I try to go in with the mentality that I want to be the starter and take his job. I think that pushes everybody.”

Darkwa knows that’s a long shot but also sees it as his job to say those kinds of things and act on them.

“Obviously, he’s not going to be complacent at that position,” Darkwa said of Perkins. “He wants to make sure he solidifies that spot. But every running back in that room is trying to do that same thing.”

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Manning rusty?

McAdoo has been impressed with the play of Eli Manning in camp, calling him “consistent” and “productive.” But on Sunday, after Manning had a few days away from the field and sat out Friday night’s preseason game, McAdoo saw something else.

“He seemed a bit rusty today,” he said after Manning had a few passes knocked down by the winds at the Meadowlands and was picked off to end a two-minute drill.

Any critical words associated with the starting quarterback, particularly a 36-year-old one, naturally will carry more weight, so McAdoo quickly tried to downplay his assessment.

“I don’t know if that needs to be a headline, but I’m sure most of you may use it,” he told reporters. “We need to get him back and get him some work. I know he’s excited to get back to work.”

Giant steps

The kicking competition between Mike Nugent and Aldrick Rosas, 22, might have taken a dramatic turn Sunday. Nugent missed two of his four field-goal attempts, going wide right from 27 yards and wide left from 29. He was good from 26 and 30. . . CB Donte Deayon, whose muffed punt in Friday night’s preseason game hurt his chances of making the roster, rebounded with the interception of Manning on a pass intended for Sterling Shepard while playing with the starters in that two-minute drill. “You always look and see how guys bounce back who’ve had good practices, and maybe not have played in the game as well as they would’ve wanted to play,” McAdoo said. “See how they jump back out here on the practice field and how they handle themselves. It was a good response today.’’ . . . LB Mark Herzlich (stinger) returned to practice and knocked down a pass in coverage. LB Keenan Robinson (concussion) and DT Robert Thomas (lower body) also returned to practice . . . WR Tavarres King (ankle) worked on the side . . . WR Kevin Norwood was carted off the field after suffering a hip injury.