Wayne Gallman has served as the change-of-pace back for four years. The NY Giants should give him a look as a starter before checking to see where he can go.
It could be because the Philadelphia Eagles defense is atrocious, it could be frustration at his own team playing poorly, but, with starter Devonte Freeman, who wasn’t even on the team a few weeks ago, knocked out with an injury, Wayne Gallman stepped up and played with an edge in Thursday’s game.
Despite limited playing time through the first half of the NY Giants’ season, Gallman on Thursday showed he has the ability to compete in the NFL.
NY Giants are somehow still alive in the NFC East, but NFL trade deadline, more importantly, could serve as a chance to add playmakers to help Daniel Jones.
Through the first seven games of 2020, Gallman has already matched his total rushing yards from 2019. That isn’t saying too much, since he only racked up 110 yards in 10 games that year. Further, for three of the four years he’s been on Big Blue, Gallman has not exceeded 200 yards rushing.
His best season was as a rookie. In 2017, Gallman rushed for 476 yards and added another 193 receiving yards across 13 games for the NY Giants. Former Giants running back Orleans Darkwa started over Gallman that season, and finished with more yards (751) touchdowns (6 vs. 0) and yards per game (50.1 vs 36.6). But Darkwa has not played in the NFL since, while Gallman has watched as the NFL slowly leans back to a run-heavy league. All the while, Gallman has learned from one of the leagues’ best.
2017 was a year fans wish to forget, as the Giants limped to a 3-13 overall finish. But that landed the Giants at the #2 spot in the draft, where they selected sensational talent Saquon Barkley.
The rest is history. Barkley went on to become the 2018 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to a Pro Bowl. He would collect 1000+ rushing over the next two seasons, before suffering a season-ending injury early this season.
Gallman, meanwhile, was always the number two back, looking for ways to contribute. In 2018, he rushed for 176 yards on 51 attempts across 15 games. He also had 14 receptions for 89 yards. In 2019, Gallman took a further back seat, as rookie quarter back Daniel Jones showed his ability to use his feet. Still, despite only attempting 29 rushes, he racked up 110 yards across 10 games, with 11 receptions for 102 yards to add.
Gallman seemed to solidify being a strong backup option for Barkley in the NFL. The two had surprisingly comparable numbers in college: Gallman collected 3416 rushing yards and 34 in three years at Clemson while Barkley racked up 3843 yards and 43 touchdowns in three years at Penn State. But Barkley seemed to contain that intangible it factor that shines any time he touches the ball.
Gallman showed flashes of that against the Eagles. Though he didn’t have a breakout run like Jones had for 80 yards, Gallman fought hard for each yard he picked up, which helps open up the field for those long explosive runs. And though his stats were pedestrian, with 34 rushing yards and 20 receiving yards and a touchdown, he stepped up when his team needed him most.
He might have to do it again, if Freeman’s injury is significant. Though he’s played backup in all but one game this season, he is averaging more yards per carry than Freeman and only trails him by 62 yards, despite having fewer than half of Freeman’s attempts.
Wayne Gallman has been consistent in his four years with the team. This is the final year of his contract, and it’s not like the season could be salvaged even if Barkley were in the backfield.
Talent and effort are vital to any young team. The Giants should give Gallman a shot before letting him walk. It’s worth seeing how he can compete as a starter, even if all it does is get other teams interested.