Here’s what is known so far about the Giants' running back situation.
Rashad Jennings signed a four-year, $10 million contract and will, based on recent quotes by head coach Tom Coughlin given to Michael Eisen on the team's official website, presumably carry the load regardless of what happens with David Wilson’s recovery:
I think (Jennings is) an all-around back. Whatever question I asked when I was looking at the tape got answered. In other words, he went 80 (yards for a touchdown last season for Oakland in a game at Houston). Is he fast enough? He goes 80. Does he catch it out of the backfield? Yes. Does he run the screens well? Yes.
How is he from scrimmage as a runner? Good. First and second down, can he play on third down? Yes, he can. What does he need? Well, he’s 230 pounds with a great attitude. He needs a little work on his pass protection, but I think we can get that done. I think he’s an all-purpose guy that fits us very, very well.
Getting back to Wilson, Coughlin was asked during that interview if he’s still counting on having him at some point this season.
The coach replied, “I’m counting on him, but I am not going to put him in any circumstance until it’s an absolute that he’s 100 percent. I’m not going to mess with that one.”
Until such time that Wilson is ready—if he’s ready this season—it's projected to be Jennings and Peyton Hillis providing the one-two punch at running back.
Who will be the third man until Wilson returns? Presumably, it would be Michael Cox, the Giants' seventh-round draft pick last year.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Cox received just 38 snaps on offense, starting one game after injuries all but wiped out the depth in front of him.
What’s interesting about Cox is that last year, as the injuries piled up on the Giants at running back, the coaches did not turn to him until there were no other options left, raising a question about why it took him so long to get any snaps.
Certainly part of the answer could have something to do with his ability to pass block. Historically, Coughlin has been reluctant to put rookie running backs on the field until they can demonstrate both the knowledge and ability to pass block.
This requirement won’t be changing any time soon as new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, in his conference call with reporters in February, emphasized that if a running back can’t pass block, he’s not getting on the field.
So the questions regarding Cox are how well will he do in having to learn a new playbook from scratch and can he demonstrate an ability to pass block?
The Giants might not want to put all their eggs in one basket. They could be looking at bringing in a draft pick that has had more experience pass blocking in a college program to compete for the roster spot.
Also potentially influencing what happens at this position is how McAdoo plans to deploy whoever wins the fullback position.
Will the winner of the Henry Hynoski-John Conner battle get some touches from the backfield, thereby eliminating the need for one running back and allowing the Giants to use the roster spot elsewhere?
One thing not working in Cox's favor is that he is probably not going to be the main man this year on kickoff returns, not if Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday both make the team.
If Cox struggles with his pass blocking, he could be potentially facing an uphill battle to make the final 53-man roster this year.