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Rashad Jennings a workhorse in Giants’ win

Roosevelt High senior Chukwuma Ukwu, left, gets presented

Roosevelt High senior Chukwuma Ukwu, left, gets presented with the Heart of a Giant Award by Giants running back Rashad Jennings during a surprise ceremony for Ukwu in the school's auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. Ukwu, who played on Roosevelt's varsity football team, was honored for his dedication on the gridiron and exceptional service to his local community. Photo Credit: James Escher

Week after week, it had been a source of frustration. A muddled vision of what the Giants backfield should look like — Who should be the top dog? Who gets the ball on third-and-short? — hindered each running back’s ability to find consistent opportunities.

Perhaps what occurred in the Giants’ 31-24 win over the Dolphins on Monday night is a sign of things to come. Rashad Jennings ran 22 times — eight more than he had in any other game this season and a season high for a Giants running back — for 81 yards, also a Giants season high. The other three bodies in the Giants’ four-man rotation — Shane Vereen, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa — saw a total of seven attempts.

“It was obvious to us that some of the runs that Rashad made were outstanding runs. He did an awful lot of that himself,” Tom Coughlin said. “The fact that the run was contributing to what we were doing, he was the guy who was the most productive, so therefore he got a large number of carries.”

Jennings, who had 22 carries in the previous three games combined, said his workload against the Dolphins was directly related to his success.

“It was just good for a back to have an opportunity to kind of get consistency. It always helps,” Jennings said at Roosevelt High School on Tuesday. Thirteen hours after the Giants defeated Miami, he presented Roosevelt senior fullback Chukwuma Ukwu with the 2015 USA Football “Heart of a Giant” award.

But will Jennings continue to be the featured back?

“Well, we’ll see,” Coughlin said. “We’ll certainly start that way . . . We have, again, different ability ranges and guys who can be tapped and utilized in many different functions . . . We’ll continue to do that as well.”

Jennings voiced his frustration earlier last week about the adverse effects of utilizing four backs, but after the Giants’ win Monday night, he clarified.

“It’s a healthy frustration,” he said. “I think every player wants to contribute more. Quite frankly, if you’re not a little frustrated, then I’m questioning you. That’s how we look at this thing. You want guys to compete . . . That’s not anything negative.”

With Tom Rock

New York Sports