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Sunday, August 24, 2014
Giants RB Jennings shows his value

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As the regular season approaches, it becomes more and more apparent that running back Rashad Jennings could be the most important part of the New York Giants' offense.

Jennings
 At least at the start of the season, while they sort out the offensive line and Eli Manning and who they have at wide receiver and tight end, the Giants' offense is likely to flow through Jennings, who is pretty much all they have at running back at this point. Rookie Andre Williams may eventually be an excellent player, but it's clear that his game still has a lot of room for improvement, and initially his most important role will be to help give Jennings a break when he needs it.

Jennings showed the breadth of his value Friday night, when he delivered a couple of big blocks in pass protection during the Giants' two-minute drive at the end of the first half. The Giants signed him because they believed he could be a complete back -- run the ball, catch the ball and pick up the blitz -- and he has shown he has the ability to do all of those things.

"Being a student of the game is something every player has to do," Jennings said Sunday. "Studying tape and understanding the overall picture of the protection, the routes and where you fit into the triangle of it. In the pass protection, Eli always puts us in a good position. The line communicates well, and everyone is on the same page. But as far as coming across and going backside, that's just a part of playing football, and it comes from repetition."

Jennings should expect to get a lot of repetitions once the season begins. As a guy who's played in power run games throughout his NFL career, he still struggles at times to hit the right hole at the right time in all of the zone and stretch runs the Giants are installing this season, but he should develop better consistency along those lines without too much trouble. It's the first time a team has asked him to be the No. 1 guy for a full season, so until he does that, we don't really know whether he can. But there appears little doubt that he'll get the opportunity to do it if he can stay healthy. With David Wilson having retired due to neck injuries and Williams still a work in progress, Jennings is pretty much all they have. If he can, in fact, do it all, they will ask him to do just that.