NY Giants rookie RB is thankfully pushing for more reps at returner

The first-year Giant wants to put his versatility on display
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Filling the void that Saquon Barkley created when he betrayed the NY Giants and headed to Philly was never going to be easy for general manager Joe Schoen. The G-Men will somehow have to replace the production of one of the NFL's best rushers, and newly signed Devin Singletary won't be able to do that alone.

It was speculated that Schoen would take a top running back in the 2024 NFL Draft class with a Day 2 pick. However, he did not bolster the backfield until he selected Swiss Army knife player Tyrone Tracy Jr. with the No. 166 overall pick. While he is technically listed as a tailback on the depth chart, the receiver-turned-running back was a versatile offensive weapon at Purdue and could see himself incorporated into other areas of the game during his rookie year.

Rookie RB Tyrone Tracy looking to claim Giants' top return-man duties

"I'm in Coach [Michael] Ghobrial's ear every day trying to tell him to let me kick off return. And we do it in practice, so I'm doing good and getting good reps over time. I'm a rookie, so I'm still making sure that I'm doing every single thing the right way. Making sure that I'm putting good stuff on film for the coaches to be like, 'This is why we should put him back there,' instead of me just saying put me back there. To say the least, I'm super excited about this role and the opportunity ahead of me."

Tyrone Tracy

The rookie knows his playing time opportunities will be limited in the offense behind Singletary and Eric Gray. Because of this, he is willing to get on the field in any way he can, including as the kick or punt returner.

New special teams coordinator Michael Ghobrial is looking to improve the unit that finished 23rd on Rick Gosselin's annual special teams rankings a year ago. Could Tracy be part of the solution? He was a wideout at Iowa for his first four collegiate seasons, but he switched to running back once he transferred to Purdue due to his ability to make things happen in the open field.

The Giants ranked 28th in the league in kick-return yards in 2023 and only took it out of the end zone 13 times. To make things worse, they averaged a measly 19.2 yards per return. Tracy averaged 25.5 yards per return for the Boilermakers last season and even ran back a kick to the house in the season-opener. He is an elusive ball-carrier who was lauded for his athleticism heading into the draft.

The Giants need a returner who can make a man miss and break a few tackles. Tracy could very well be that guy. With Gary Brightwell out of the picture — a fellow running back who often served on kickoffs and punt returns — he has a spot to claim on the special teams unit, whether it be as the return man or a gunner.

As a late-round draft pick, Tracy must do anything he can to earn himself a spot on the 53-man roster come Week 1. He might not produce much for NY in the ground game, but he can still be a valuable weapon on the special teams unit and in trick plays.