Every injury in the NFL brings about an opportunity for someone else to shine. The question for the New York Giants is who will get that chance after running back Andre Brown broke his leg in the team's final preseason game.
The 26-year-old running back—who also broke his leg last season—finished with more rushing attempts and yards than David Wilson in 2012 and led the team with eight touchdowns. While fantasy owners were excited about Wilson's potential, Brown would have still been a big part of the offense, taking away some value from each player.
With the news that he will be out at least a month and likely more, this means that Wilson should immediately shoot up draft boards. He will get more touches immediately and could end up getting the goal-line carries that would have gone to Brown. So, who's next in line after Wilson?
Head coach Tom Coughlin has always liked to use multiple running backs in his offense, and that is unlikely to change based on personnel. Last season was the first since 2006 that only one Giants running back had over 100 carries, and that was only because Wilson and Brown split backup duties.
Besides, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brown weren't exactly household names before having big seasons, so someone else could follow in their footsteps this year in New York.
Ryan Torain appeared to be an option to take over that role, but he was released in the team's final cuts, according to Kevin Patra of NFL.com. This leaves Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox as the only other healthy running backs on the roster.
This will be Scott's third year on the roster, although he only has 11 rushing attempts in his first two seasons. He has contributed on special teams, totaling 341 kick return yards in 2011, but he did not keep that role last year.
Buried at No. 4 on the depth chart a year ago with three more notable players in front of him, Scott never really had a legitimate chance. The opportunity is there for him this time around, though.
Like Wilson, Scott has a lot of speed that he can use to beat defenders to the edge. He does have a bit more size than the starter, but he is hardly a bruiser in the middle of the field.
Still, he has been solid this preseason and has the ability to contribute if given the opportunity. While his 2.5 yards per carry is nothing to write home about, he did have five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown, suggesting the Giants are comfortable utilizing him in the passing game and potentially on third downs.
His additional snaps in passing situations also implies that he has enough trust in the coaching staff as a pass-blocker.
Meanwhile, Cox was barely drafted this year, taken with the 253rd pick in April. He has struggled in most of the preseason as a runner, totaling negative yardage on nine carries in the final three games. Overall, he finished the preseason with 18 carries for 32 yards, a dismal 1.8 average.
However, he has excelled on special teams both as a returner and on coverage, and Coughlin said that was why he made the team, according to Giants.com:
[Cox] has demonstrated outstanding ability as a kick returner. We put him at gunner and he was a good gunner. You send him down on kickoffs and he did a nice job with that. He has shown endurance and power and strength and the attitude anywhere you put him. We preach it all the time. You make the team because of your contributions on special teams. You have a great chance. That’s what he did.
This is good for the player to make the team, but this does not seem to indicate that he will have much of a role on the offensive side of the ball. Nine of his 18 preseason carries came in the first game after the starters were out, and he did not play much after.
He could end up being the between the tackles runner that is missing in the offense thanks to his great size, but he has not proven the ability to succeed in short-yardage situations.
That leaves Scott as the top option if you want to draft a second Giants running back. He has more experience in the system and has enough quickness to get up the field in a hurry if he finds an opening. If Wilson goes down with an injury, Scott is better suited to take over in a full-time role.
Based on the uncertainty, it might not be worth taking the running back with a high or even mid-round draft pick, but he has enough upside to keep him on your roster in deeper leagues or at the very least your watch list.
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