The Giants didn’t have a single tailback with more than 20 receptions a season ago.
If the preseason opener is any indicator, they could have a running back exceed 20 catches by the end of September.
Of the six completions Eli Manning had in the first quarter of Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game against Buffalo, three were to tailback Rashad Jennings, whom New York signed away from Oakland in free agency. All were short, high-percentage passes.
Overall, Manning hit on all but one of his throws, racking up 44 yards. At first glance, he looks comfortable in new coordinator Ben McAdoo’s scheme.
The Giants’ running game appeared healthy early, too, with rookie Andre Williams (five carries, 37 yards, one TD in the first quarter) making a favorable first impression and Jennings (7-23-0) also running well enough. The Giants seem deeper and stronger in the backfield than they were last season, when Andre Brown’s injury left them feeble in the ground game.
In all, it was a nice start for the Giants’ offense. The lone drawback? Manning fumbled under pressure, setting up a Bills field goal. While Manning was facing the rush, he rolled away from his throwing hand, leaving himself vulnerable, and Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams knocked the ball out. The Giants’ protection needed to be better, but their long-time starting quarterback has to better protect the ball.
In a preseason opener marked by some of the Giants’ new looks, Manning’s mistake was an unwelcome flashback to a mistake-marred 2013.