It comes down to this for Shaun Draughn: One game to make the team.
The veteran running back on his ninth team in seven years was signed as a free agent by the Giants to help bolster the backfield, but he spent the first half of training camp on PUP recovering from ankle surgery. When he finally was cleared and got on the field against the Jets on Saturday, he lasted just three offensive snaps and three special teams plays before leaving the game to be evaluated for a concussion.
He eventually was cleared without a concussion and will get to play Thursday against the Patriots. That doesn’t feel like a lot of time to impress new coaches and new teammates, but Draughn said he’ll take it.
“Every time you have a preseason game there is time to compete and win a spot,” Draughn said this week. “I never think it’s too late as long as there is time left.”
It is, though, an uphill battle. The Giants’ top three running backs are likely to be Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen. They’ll also likely keep rookie Wayne Gallman to avoid putting him on waivers and exposing him to other teams. That makes four. If the Giants keep a fullback, it might be hard to keep a fifth. That’s where Draughn, 29, seems to be now.
It can change after Thursday night, though.
“It’s very important,” he said of the final preseason game. “We’re trying to make this team and impress other coaches for that matter. I’m just excited to get back out there and actually play. I’m just eager to put on the uniform and play football.”
In his limited time against the Jets, Draughn did show something. He had one carry, caught one pass out of the backfield, and made a special teams tackle.
Asked where he feels can fit into the running backs room on the Giants, Draughn said he did not know.
“Whatever role they allow me to be in, I’m ready and willing,” he said. “I’m just a good football player. I don’t like to limit myself or describe myself as a running back. I just describe myself as a football player.”
He’ll get a chance to be that on Thursday, and also make his case that he should continue to be one after this weekend.