Rashad Jennings joked that the ideal number of running backs on a team is 30.
It feels like the Giants are getting close to that hyperbolic number.
Jennings, who was honored at Tuesday night’s United Way of New York City Gridiron Gala as a “Hometown Hero,” said he isn’t bothered by the crowded running backs room at the Giants’ offseason workouts. And it will get more crowded when fifth-round draft pick Paul Perkins can participate (he is currently finishing the semester at UCLA).
“You need healthy running backs,” Jennings said. “You need a lot of running backs to run the ball. I’m excited to have another young guy to teach and get ready to play in the games, groom him to be a great one.”
One of the reasons for the glut of backs is that the Giants did not have “a great one” last year. Jennings emerged as the clear starter and workhorse toward the end of the season, but for most of the year, the team rotated between three and four backs — Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa — in games. That led to a lack of consistency and rhythm from any of them.
This offseason they added Bobby Rainey to the mix, along with Perkins. The Giants are very high on Perkins, who they see as an every-down back. For a team that rotated running backs like square dance partners last season, Perkins could provide some stability as he develops. Darkwa is recovering from an injury during the offseason program.
“I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how it all fits together,” said Vereen, who was at the Gala to support Jennings. “Everyone is familiar with the system and the offense, so that’s a good thing. We’ll kind of hit the ground running.”
Ideally one of them will. A few of them will be there as backups and situational backs. And some of them will not make the Giants’ 53-man roster.
“I know that we’re going to have as many as we need for Sundays and Mondays and Thursdays,” Jennings said. “It makes no difference to me . . . I’m going to work the way I work regardless of anyone’s opinion of me. I’m here to help win a championship.”