EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- "Don't give up on Andre," New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo said back at the NFL owners meetings in March, months after any Giants fans who were listening had already decided to give up on third-year running back Andre Williams.
McAdoo and the Giants' coaching staff still see possibilities for Williams, whose second NFL season was a dud but who is still on the roster and happy to hear his coach talk that way about him.
"I just wholeheartedly agree with him," Williams said after a Giants organized team activity practice Monday. "I know what I'm capable of, and I look forward to being able to show that on the field this year."
Whether and how much Williams gets the chance to do that has yet to be determined. As part of a four-man running back rotation that didn't have much success in 2015, the Giants' 2014 fourth-round pick averaged 2.9 yards per carry, gaining 257 yards on 88 carries and scoring only one touchdown. The Giants had high hopes for Williams after he led them in rushing as a rookie (721 yards), but he did not take advantage of the opportunities the 2015 coaching staff gave all of its running backs to emerge as a true No. 1.
Fast-forward to this year, and Williams finds himself in an even more crowded backfield, with Rashad Jennings still projected as the starter and Shane Vereen still slotted in as the passing-down back but veteran Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins now in the mix as well. Add in Orleans Darkwa, who showed promise in spots last season, and it's possible Williams will have to fight for a roster spot, not just playing time.
"That four-headed monster didn't scare too many people, I don't think," Williams said. "I think this year, things will be a little clearer and we'll be more effective."
In truth, and regardless of last season's performance, it would be a major out-of-character upset for the Giants to get rid of one of their draft picks after only two years. And without wishing bad luck on anyone, it's statistically unlikely for the Giants' entire running back group to stay as healthy as it did last season. So you have to think Williams will get a chance for the bounce-back of which he believes himself capable. If and when he does, he says he'll be ready.
Williams says he's lost 11-12 pounds to get down to 220 and shrink his waist size from a 36 to a 32. He credits this to an improved offseason workout program and expects to maintain the weight and play at 220.
"I like the way I feel right now," Williams said. "Faster, stronger, more explosive than I've ever been. So I'm just going to run with it."
There are plenty on the Giants' coaching staff who'd love to see that.