Saquon Barkley is the undisputed New York Giants starting running back, and veteran Matt Breida, who missed the team's preseason opener, is the "backup" who actually might not be a traditional backup because there will be some plays in which both Barkley and Breida are on the field together.
After that, though, the battle for RB3 is still to be determined as the candidates for the role--Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams, Sandro Platzgummer, and rookie Jashaun Corbin--each turned in performances fil with a mixture of good and bad that offered little clarity as to who, if anyone, is ahead.
Brightwell, last year's sixth-round pick, was the first off the bench after Barkley put in his one series of the game. He had an early 8-yard reception but came up short in breaking a tackle to pick up yards after the catch.
As a runner, he finished with 40 yards on seven carries, his best run being one in the second quarter in which he bounced it outside and broke a tackle; unfortunately, the run was wiped off the board thanks to a holding penalty against the Giants.
From the pass blocking perfective, Brightwell had a rough night. He was knocked backward into Daniel Jones and came up short on another blitz pickup opportunity. Pass protection is just as important as anything when evaluating running backs, and Brightwell has a lot of work to do in this area if he wants to hold on to his roster spot.
Williams, who spent last season with Buffalo, followed Brightwell in the planned rotation and was perhaps the most effective of the backup candidates. Showing good burst out of the backfield, Williams also finished off several of his nine runs with power, including his 2-yard touchdown rush in which he lowered his shoulder and was determined not to be denied entry into the end zone.
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Williams, who seems to thrive on runs between the tackles, finished as the team's rushing leader with 61 yards on nine carries, a 6.8 average. He also had an impressive-looking 19-yard run (his longest of the night) around the left end and caught his lone pass target. Williams certainly didn't hurt his chances of sticking around, and it will be interesting to see what the rotation looks like next week after Barkley and, if he plays, Breida.
Corbin, the undrafted rookie free agent, is a slasher type of runner who can weave his way through traffic. Showing speed, quickness, and vision--he did a nice job of picking out creases and then hitting them before they disappeared--the only stain on Corbin's night was a dropped pass thrown down around his knees at the end of the first half.
We wouldn't say Corbin is a physical runner who will necessarily win by lowering his shoulder and pushing the pile. Still, he is a dynamic and shifty scatback type with a good set of hands--he caught five out of six pass targets for 28 yards and a long of 10 yards to go along with his six carries for 23 yards (3.8 average).
Platzgummer, the Austrian native, closed out the game when he was inserted on the final drive after the two-minute warning to replace Corbin. Platzgummer contributed three straight carries for 21 yards.
His longest and best run was a 15-yard dash that put the Giants into the red zone, and then he added six more yards on his next two runs to give kicker Graham Gano a 24-yard chip shot field goal which the kicker converted.
Although he's hanging in there, this RB3 battle looks like it's more of a three-man race between Brightwell, Williams, and Corbin, with Williams appearing to be in the lead after one preseason game.
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