With Peyton Hillis going down with an ankle injury this week in practice, the New York Giants have lost yet another running back for the foreseeable future. Coupled with David Wilson’s retirement from the NFL, the Giants are dangerously thin in the backfield. Head coach Tom Coughlin said adding a free agent is unlikely right now, meaning one of the younger players on the roster will have to step up. That player will be running back Andre Williams.
Williams, who the Giants selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, currently has a great opportunity being given to him. With Hillis and Wilson sidelined, Williams is now the second-string running back behind starter Rashad Jennings. He will have a chance to take control of that spot with extended playing time the remainder of the preseason. If he can continue performing like he did in the Hall of Fame game against the Buffalo Bills, the job should permanently be his.
He performed extremely well in college when given the opportunity, rushing for 2,177 yards on 355 carries and scoring 18 touchdowns. He was virtually the only thing the Boston College offense had going for it, constantly running against seven, eight and nine man fronts, yet still performed at that high level.
The only thing holding Williams back right now is his play in the passing game. For as talented as he is as a runner, he is as bad as a receiver out of the backfield and in pass protection. Throughout his four seasons at BC, Williams only caught 10 passes. For now, he is restricted to only some early down work and goal line duties.
Williams did play on two passing downs in the Hall of Fame game, as the Giants showed some confidence in him as he learns the other nuances of offense aside from just carrying the ball. If he can continue showing growth in this area, Williams will be a huge asset to the Giants.
If Williams can figure out the passing offense, just enough that he becomes someone opposing defenses have to account for, he will threaten Jennings’ playing time.
Williams is by far the most talented runner the Giants have on their roster. He is not a threat to take over the starting role, as the rookie has a lot of nuances still to learn, but Jennings will not be the bell cow he was expected to be. Williams will be in a timeshare by the time the regular season begins and he will showcase those talents to earn that starting Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.