With the departure of Andre Brown from the backfield, the New York Giants have a gaping hole behind newly signed Rashad Jennings, creating more question marks for the team. Those questions could be answered by bringing in another player via free agency or the draft, but there very well could be an option already on the roster.
After Chris Johnson was released by the Tennessee Titans, some believed the Giants would look to sign him. His contract demands will most likely not be within the range the Giants have available; at this point using the remaining cap space on Johnson is not the smartest decision.
The Giants also have a home run hitter type on the roster currently in David Wilson. Wilson is recovering from neck surgery, but if he is able to play having two players with similar games would be a waste. His health makes it unknown when he will be able to return, but he has shown the explosiveness that Johnson has when he is on the field.
Peyton Hillis right now is penciled in as the backup, but as witnessed last season he may not have much left in the tank. He is a downhill runner who isn’t going to run past many people, as evidenced by his 3.4 yards per carry average. He has the most experience of anyone the Giants have but has the least upside of any running back as well.
Who the Giants should give a chance to is last season’s seventh-round pick, Michael Cox. It was a difficult rookie season for Cox, who was thrown into the fire with all of the injuries suffered.
Coming into training camp, he was not expected to see the field at all, being behind Wilson, Brown and Da’Rel Scott to start the season. Brandon Jacobs and then Hills eventually would be given opportunities ahead of him as well. He was not prepared, as Cox was the sixth-string running back last season, so expecting anything great from him was unfair.
The Giants liked what they saw in him, as his speed was impressive for his size and he had excellent hands. It is imperative in the current NFL to have running backs who not only carry the ball but can be dangerous catching it out of the backfield as well. His production was low at Massachusetts, but the attributes and things he showed when the Giants brought him in for a visit impressed them.
The Giants also have a history with seventh-round running backs producing. Ahmad Bradshaw was a seventh-round pick out of Marshall in 2007. He became a catalyst that season for the playoff push that resulted in a 2008 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.
The Giants have a void to fill with Brown leaving behind Jennings, and Cox should be given every opportunity to be the backup running back. Knowing what his role will be and with a full training camp to practice it, Cox’s production will surely trend in the right direction. He is healthy and giving him an opportunity to see what he has is the right move.