Orleans Darkwa admitted it has been “frustrating” watching the competition at running back this preseason virtually take place without him, but he said he has had conversations with Giants coaches and remains convinced he will be a contributor for the team this year.
“I’ve had talks here and there,” the third-year running back said Monday of previous chats with running backs coach Craig Johnson as well as head coach Ben McAdoo. “We’ve talked it out and had positive conversations. I just have to be patient . . . When we talked it was real brief, but what we talked about it seemed positive.”
Darkwa’s numbers in the two preseason games, though, have not been. While Andre Williams has played 25 offensive snaps with 15 carries and rookie Paul Perkins has had 24 snaps with 10 carries, Darkwa has played just nine snaps with two carries. Those three are competing for roster spots behind Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen in the backfield.
Is that a fair shake for Darkwa?
“Yeah,” he said, somewhat grudgingly. “A lot of things count in the games, but you can do a lot of things in practice too. The coaches know what I can do.”
The Giants won’t be parting ways with a draft pick, so Perkins’ place on the 53-man roster seems secure even if the amount of usage they get from him is yet to be determined. And the team seems unlikely to carry five running backs. For many observers, the decision will come down to Williams or Darkwa. Clearly, based on the reps in the games, the Giants want Williams to show them he should be the one they keep. Williams has looked good at times, but also had a costly fumble on Saturday. Darkwa mostly has been a spectator.
It’s a lot different from last year’s preseason when Darkwa was very impressive and saw a lot of opportunities. In 2015 he had 30 preseason carries for 131 yards and a touchdown. That earned him a roster spot and while he played in all 16 games he only carried the ball in eight of them. He had 36 regular-season carries for 153 yards and a touchdown.
“Every opportunity you get you have to make the most of it,” Darkwa said. “I’ve been taught that ever since I’ve been in the league, especially being an undrafted guy. You don’t get many opportunities so you have to make the most of them. I’ve never taken an opportunity for granted. Every time I’m out there on the field I’m playing my game.”
So far this summer, though, he hasn’t been out there. At least not in preseason games.
“Orleans is a guy that has value for us as a back and a special teamer,” McAdoo said. “We wanted to make sure that we are doing our due diligence evaluating the entire roster, so he didn’t get as many snaps [Saturday]. His work load will have a chance to pick up here shortly.”
Darkwa would like that.
“As a competitor it’s frustrating,” he said, “but there’s a process and you go through the process and be patient . . . I want to be out there for every play, every down. It’s the preseason right now and obviously we have a lot of backs out there. But hopefully I can get out there soon.”