Wayne Gallman #22 of the Giants carries the ball against...

Wayne Gallman #22 of the Giants carries the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at SoFi Stadium on October 4, 2020 in Inglewood, California.  Credit: Getty Images/Harry How

Wayne Gallman got another chance to step into a large role with the team in Monday night’s game. He was coming off one of the most impressive outings of the last few seasons, too. It’s what he has been waiting for most of his career.

But this opportunity was soaked in the kind of bad timing the running back has had for most of the first three-and-a-half years of his tenure with the Giants.

It came against a defense that leads the league in rushing yards allowed and yards allowed per carry, a team that is on pace to be among the top 10 in the Super Bowl era in both categories. It came in a week when the Giants’ offensive line was thrown into chaos by Will Hernandez’s positive test for COVID-19, costing the unit valuable preparation time. And it came at a time in the season when the Giants were already itching to put more young players into the rotation up front, creating the potential to be running behind three rookies on any given play.

Gallman figured to be at the center of that circle of doom because starter Devonta Freeman was sidelined by an ankle injury. Freeman was ruled out late last week.

This isn’t the first time Gallman seemed to have a chance to showcase himself with a steady role in the offense. He finished his rookie season as the starter and thought he would begin Year Two in that same role. Then the Giants drafted Saquon Barkley and those plans crumbled.

Last year, when Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain, Gallman did become the team’s lead ball-carrier. In the game after Barkley was injured Gallman totaled 118 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 4 victory over Washington. In the following game, though, he suffered an early concussion against the Vikings. By the end of the year he was a healthy scratch.

This season, Barkley again suffered a long-term injury. This time it was a torn ACL in Week 2 against the Bears. Gallman to the rescue? Not quite. He wasn’t even active for the game and veteran Dion Lewis had to handle the workload for the rest of that game. Then the Giants signed Freeman, and Gallman was back to being a backup.

In the Giants’ most recent game before Monday, Freeman left in the second half with his ankle injury. Gallman stepped in and had 10 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown but also caught five passes for an additional 20 yards against the Eagles. He had 32 offensive snaps in that game, compared to 47 total in the previous six.

"Wayne did a really nice job in the game, got some extended work against Philadelphia, and really responded well," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "Wayne is still a young player. We’re trying to help him grow and develop as a player and be a complete back for us. I think there’s been evidence over the first part of the season where he has demonstrated that. Inside runner, outside runner, pass receiver, pass protector, I think we saw all that."

Gallman is having the best season of any Giants running back. He came into Monday averaging 4.4 yards per carry, a full yard better than anyone else on the team – including Barkley, who was struggling miserably before his knee injury. Still, he faced the potential of having reps taken away from him with the elevation of veteran running back Alfred Morris from the practice squad.

"Different game plans may have different roles for different guys, but Wayne’s done a good job overall when he’s gotten into the game," coach Joe Judge said. "He’s taken advantage of some of the situations he’s been put into… Wayne’s done a good job when we’ve asked him to."

On Monday night, they asked him to.

Just his luck.

Notes & quotes: Besides Morris, a ninth-year player who had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Washington but has played in just one NFL game since the end of the 2018 season, the Giants also elevated DB Montre Hartage and G Chad Slade from their practice squad before the game. Slade was designated a COVID-19 replacement for Hernandez … Starting CB Ryan Lewis, who was downgraded to doubtful on Saturday after injuring his hamstring in Friday’s practice, was ruled out on Monday night. It was the latest turn in what has become an ongoing search for consistency from that second cornerback position going back to the spring when projected starter DeAndre Baker was arrested in Florida.

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