EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants running back carousel goes round and round. It never seems to stop. It goes through backs at an alarming rate, without any making a substantial impact.
It has been five years since any Giants running back topped 1,000 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw was the last to do it in 2012. (Note: An average of 12 running backs top 1K yards over the past five years.) Since then, the Giants have started Andre Brown, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs (in his second time around), David Wilson, Michael Cox, Andre Williams, Rashad Jennings, Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen and Paul Perkins.
Rookie Wayne Gallman could be next. He's the latest addition to perhaps the most unpredictable running back rotation in the league.
Gallman had 11 carries for 43 yards in his first career game on Sunday in Tampa Bay. That workload was the result of Perkins suffering a rib injury in the second half and Darkwa being inactive after being slowed by a back problem.
The state of the Giants running game is scary. They're 31st in the NFL, averaging 59.3 yards per game, and no Giants running back has topped 11 carries in a contest this season. That was Gallman on Sunday. It's not a desirable way for a running back or fantasy owner to live.
So where do the Giants go from here, beginning Sunday when they host the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium? The running back picture is again loaded with uncertainty. Nothing appears set.
"We have very capable backs we have a lot of confidence in," coach Ben McAdoo said. "Perkins is obviously nicked up. He's a good back. We still believe in him, have a lot of confidence in him. You saw the energy that Gallman brought to the game. Orleans is a guy we can throw in and be a big, productive runner for us. And Shane is going to play his role."
It's difficult for a running back to play with a rib injury. There is a distinct possibility that Perkins, who was limited at practice on Wednesday, will be held out of Sunday's games. That leaves Gallman and Darkwa (for now) as the primary ball carriers with Vereen remaining the passing-down back.
To start the season, it was Perkins and Darkwa as the primary ball carriers with Vereen as the passing-down back. Last week, it was Perkins and Gallman as the primary ball carriers with Vereen as the passing-down back.
Each week the Giants' running back rotation appears to be a-changing. It's a race to see who can gain significant traction and claim a bigger role. So far nobody has come close. Gallman and Darkwa should have the best chance this week.
"Every player has a role. They play their role going into a game," McAdoo said. "If somebody gets hot, we'll ride him."
It hasn't happened so far this season. It hasn't happened much the past few years.
Gallman, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson, believes he has a chance. "I only played one half," he said. "The best is yet to come."
There is reason for optimism after his first career game. He came into Sunday's contest and provided some spark. Gallman rushed for 18 yards and caught a 4-yard touchdown pass on a key third-quarter drive.
He seemed to provide a spark, and it appears that will earn him an increased role this week.
"I thought Wayne did some good things, had some nice runs and got some good yardage, ran hard. He's exciting," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Seems like he's an exciting guy when he gets the ball in his hands. So, we just have to give him opportunities to make some plays. Had a nice touchdown and did some good things."
Darkwa (4.1 yards per carry) also should receive some more opportunities, at least in the short term. That seems prudent considering he's the only Giants running back averaging over 4.0 ypc this season.
His back is believed to be fine and he thought he could've played last week in Tampa. Instead, he was the odd man out of the ever-changing rotation.
That's probably not going to be the case this week. It looks like Darkwa and Gallman's turn on the carousel while Perkins (1.9 ypc) heals up.