New York Giants: Peyton Hillis Should Be Big Part of Team's Plans in 2014

Travis WakemanCorrespondent IIJune 19, 2014

New York Giants running back Peyton Hillis points after his 1-yard touchdown run against the San Diego Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Denis Poroy/Associated Press

Which running back will be the key to the New York Giants' backfield in 2014?

The team has several options. Rashad Jennings, the player the team brought in on a four-year deal very early on in the free-agent signing period, will likely have a great chance to be the starting running back on opening day. 

Then there's Andre Williams, the man who led the nation in rushing at Boston College last year and was drafted in the fourth round of the most recent NFL draft.

The Giants also aren't likely to give up on former first-round pick David Wilson just yet.

While all of these guys could pool their talents together to make a solid group, one player that must not be forgotten is Peyton Hillis.

Peyton Hillis looks slimmer and more chiseled. He's also playing faster.

— Patricia Traina (@Patricia_Traina) June 5, 2014

Hillis may be the least-talked about running back in New York, but he still has plenty to offer.

After an 0-6 start to the 2013 season, the Giants brought Hillis in off the street while their running back corps was in shambles. They may not have expected much, but Hillis scored a touchdown and caught five passes as the Giants defeated the Minnesota Vikings for their first win of the year.

After the season concluded, the Giants decided to retain Hillis, signing him to a new two-year contract.

With that in mind, Giants fans should look to the future of what Hillis brings to the team and not only view him as a stopgap player in a lost season.

Hillis is a tough runner who can break tackles and pick up tough yardage. He can give the team the kind of short-yardage runner that Brandon Jacobs once was.

But on top of that, Hillis excels as a receiver out of the backfield, and he can aid Eli Manning in pass protection as well. Those are the areas where the Giants could get the most out of him.

While the team has a proven running back in Jennings and a promising young player in Williams, Hillis should not be overlooked.

Though it seems like decades ago, Hillis ran for over 1,100 yards and caught 61 passes as a member of the Cleveland Browns. That was in 2010.

It's very unlikely that Hillis ever returns to that form, but he is absolutely capable of being a very strong rotational player for the Giants.

After being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last September, it looked like Hillis' career was all but over. It can be revived in New York.

Many fans will be eager to look at how Jennings fits into the Giants' system after rushing for 733 yards last year in Oakland. They will also be ready to get Williams on the field while also wondering if there is any hope still left for Wilson.

While they do that, however, they shouldn't sleep on Hillis.