Former undrafted running back Javon Leake earned praise from the New York Giants’ coaching staff as he battled for reps alongside Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman, but the team announced a pair of moves on Saturday that saw the former Terp’s time in New York come to a brief end.
After rookie safety Xavier McKinney suffered a left foot fracture earlier this week, the Giants announced the signing of cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Brandon Williams as Leake and defensive back Christian Angulo were waived to make space. The move to waive Leake as he emerged as a strong RB3 candidate who can flourish on special teams. The rookie earned praise from Giants head coach Joe Judge just last week.
“Starting with Leake, he’s a guy who’s really coming on right now,” he said. “He’s feeling more comfortable within the system and scheme. He’s doing a good job of taking coaching points from [running backs coach] Burton [Burns] to the field. He’s a guy that’s very in-tune at meetings, paying attention. You can see that with him. He’s improved on a daily basis.”
Former Maryland cornerback Tino Ellis was also waived by the New Orleans Saints earlier this week as the pair of undrafted rookies look to find a team ahead of the 2020 season. If he does clears waivers, Leake could return to the 53-man roster or practice squad as the team’s third running back or returner as the versatile weapon proved his explosiveness as a junior in College Park. Leake was named the Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year to close out his career in College Park as he led the Big Ten with 804 kick return yards. Head coach Mike Locksley saw the transition from the college to pro level as reason why Leake can find his niche in the league.
“There’s no doubt in the return game he does and will be able to because he left here Big Ten Returner of the Year award, made a lot of plays during his career here in the kickoff return,” Locksley said this summer. "And as I said, I also feel strongly that some ability as a punt returner and because of his vision and toughness and speed, I think that he’ll make a mark as an NFL returner.”