The 2013 season was a disaster for the New York Giants in the backfield. Before the season started, they lost Andre Brown to injury, and David Wilson didn’t last much longer into the regular season. They started six different running backs in the season, and the one they had the most success with was Peyton Hillis.
Hillis was brought off the street by the Giants prior to their Week 7 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and right away the offense began getting on track. Hillis did not put up eye-popping stats, but he brought a veteran influence to the backfield that had been devastated by injuries all season.
On the season, Hillis ran for 247 yards on 73 carries for an underwhelming 3.4 yards per carry average, scoring twice. He also factored into the passing game some, catching 13 passes for 96 yards.
With Hillis in the fold, the Giants got on a hot streak, winning four-straight games. Hillis only appeared in three of them, as injuries eventually got to him as well, but he was an integral part of the Giants turning things around. In games Hillis appeared in, the Giants went 5-2, while going 2-7 in games he did not.
His pass protection in the backfield made him valuable to the Giants, who had an offensive line that struggled mightily and running backs who did not excel at it. That quality helped get Hillis a roster spot last season, and got him re-signed for this season.
With new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in town, Hills should have a role once again this season. He should figure into the running game at some point as an early-down banger with rookie Andre Williams. His pass protection will also give him some opportunities in passing situations as well, giving McAdoo some flexibility with where to use him.
Anyone who has seen McAdoo’s former team, the Green Bay Packers, play, will know there is a role on this squad for Hillis if given the chance. Hillis and Packers back John Kuhn have very similar playing styles, giving McAdoo and the Giants a player they can use as a fullback or running back.
Hillis will have to play well in training camp to lock down a spot on the roster, though. The Giants brought in Rashad Jennings as a free agent, adding him to the rookie Williams and Wilson, once he is cleared to play. There are a lot of players to keep happy, and to get the playing time each thinks they deserve, they will need to perform in practice and the preseason.
Hillis will have a role on this team if he makes it, but that right now is no guarantee. The Giants must have liked what they saw last season to give him some guaranteed money for 2014, but he will have to earn playing time in a crowded backfield.