EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — If last week was any indication, rookie Wayne Gallman might be the featured running back in the New York Giants’ offense.
The fourth-round draft pick from Clemson had career highs across the board Sunday, carrying 12 times for 59 yards and catching seven passes for 40 yards in the 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
It is uncertain whether Gallman had his number called more because Orleans Darkwa was feeling under the weather, but he certainly made the most of the opportunity. Gallman should see more work Sunday when the Giants (2-11) play host to the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles (11-2).
“I just took the opportunity and ran with it,” Gallman said Wednesday. “I got in there and made plays and the goal was to extend running plays and do what we can. We knew it was going to come through the backs.”
The hard-running Gallman showed a lot against Dallas. He’s a very instinctive runner who can be an every- down back because he gives Eli Manning a dump-off option when the pass rush gets too heavy.
“I think the Giants know what I can do,” Gallman said. “It’s was just a matter of putting me out there.”
Gallman was inactive for the first three games of the season with Paul Perkins starting and Darkwa being his backup. He got a chance against Tampa Bay in the fourth week when Darkwa missed the game with a back problem. He has been active the last 10 games.
Prior to last weekend, his best game was 11 carries for 57 yards and five catches for 25 against the Chargers on Oct. 8.
Gallman said he is no different from any other football player. He wants to start.
“Of course there is that point where you have to learn and grow in certain areas,” he said. “You have to know that it is all not going to be given to you. You have to go after it.”
Before getting his chance, Gallman had to learn the offense, with the biggest thing being blitz pickup. At Clemson, Deshaun Watson ran away from most blitzes. With the Giants, Manning is a pocket passer who needs to be protected.
This week will be a challenge. The Eagles have the best run defense in the league, allowing an average of 71.2 yards, and fourth-ranked defense overall. The Giants had 49 yards on 17 carries in a 27-24 loss in Philadelphia on Sept. 24, but Manning threw for season highs of 366 yards and three touchdowns.
Philadelphia is led up front by tackle Fletcher Cox. Mychal Kendricks and the rest of the linebackers move well, and they get support from safety Malcolm Jenkins, who leads the team with 97 tackles.
“Based off of the last time we played them, they come flying around and it’s a physical game all around,” Darkwa said. “The battle in the trenches, obviously, with the lines and the running backs and the linebackers, we’re going at it the whole game. So, it’s a physical game, but that’s how division games are, usually. They don’t like us, we don’t like them and that’s how it usually goes.”
While Gallman might be the future of the Giants, the 25-year-old Darkwa, who leads the Giants with 580 yards rushing on 136 carries, will be a free agent after this season.
“I’m going to give it my best, I’m going to give it my all because this game can be taken away from you just like that,” Darkwa said. “But just the love of the game. Going out there and at the end of the day, everybody wants to win. We don’t like that feeling of losing, nobody’s gotten numb to it. We just have to make sure we can go out there and get a win, and what a better way to get a win against the Philadelphia Eagles, you know?”
NOTES: S Landon Collins (ankle) did not practice and his status is uncertain for Sunday. DT Damon Harrison (rest), WR Roger Lewis (ankle), OT Justin Pugh also did not practice. Pugh was at a doctor getting a second opinion on his back. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) was among five players who were limited. … Coach Steve Spagnuolo wasn’t sure whether DE Romeo Okwara (knee) would come off injured reserve this week. … CB Eli Apple returned to practice and worked with the second team. He has missed the last four games.
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