The injury to New York Giants running back Andre Brown may not be quite as severe as it was initially believed to be. According to ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk, Brown revealed that the crack in his leg is a small fracture before vowing to return to the gridiron this season. Tests on Friday should shed more light on the true extent of the injury.
Either way, the Giants are going to be without Brown for some time and that impacts multiple areas.
Second-year running back David Wilson will step in as the Giants feature back. Wilson was going to be the starter anyway before Brown went down but the two would have split carries.
The replacement options for New York come in the form of veterans Ryan Torain and Da’Rel Scott. Scott’s future with the team was in jeopardy but Brown’s injury gives him yet another opportunity. Rookie Michael Cox provides another option after an impressive preseason.
The injury to Brown does end any and all speculation about Wilson returning kickoffs. Wilson made his mark on the Giants special teams a year ago, leading the NFL in kickoff-return yards. His season was highlighted by a 97-yard touchdown against the New Orleans Saints.
The Giants would love to put him back there but he has become much too valuable. It was unlikely that he would return kicks when Brown was healthy and now that he is hurt, the Giants really can’t afford the risk. An injury to Wilson would be devastating to the offense.
In place of Wilson, the two most viable kickoff-return candidates are Cox and Jerrel Jernigan.
When the Giants drafted Jernigan in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, they were going to groom him as their next special teams stud. At Troy University, Jernigan excelled at both wide receiver and special teams, earning First-Team All-Sun Belt honors three years in a row. However, he hasn’t panned out to this point and spent last year backing up Wilson.
Cox was drafted in the seventh round this past year out of the University of Massachusetts. He has had some opportunities to return kicks this preseason. Against the Indianapolis Colts, he had a 36-yard kickoff return and followed that up with a 35-yarder against the New York Jets. Against the New England Patriots on Thursday, Cox topped off his preseason with a 38-yard return.
Both players will get opportunities but Cox will likely be the starter. He did more than enough in the preseason to showcase his skillset and highlight-reel potential.
Daniel Brennan covers the New York Giants for Rant Sports. He lives in Westchester, New York and is a graduate of Quinnipiac University.