Giants running back Wayne Gallman had his best career game last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, racking up 94 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.
The performance added to a career resurgence in 2020 for the 26-year-old Gallman after two seasons serving as a rarely used rotational back from 2018-19.
On the season, Gallman has totaled 369 rushing yards and six touchdowns and is closing in on Daniel Jones for the team's rushing lead.
For the Giants, Gallman's presence on the roster has been a gift for a rushing attack that lost superstar running back Saquon Barkley to a season-ending ACL injury in Week 2.
While Gallman hasn't provided the same type of game-changing impact that Barkley brings, he has still been a better-than-expected spark out of the backfield, outperforming every other running back on the roster.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has slotted Gallman into a system that has allowed the fourth-year back to flourish by virtue of his ability to finish runs and fall forward for extra yards in addition to his overall athleticism.
"One of the things about Wayne that’s so impressive is he’s a really good athlete, quickness, speed, elusiveness," Garrett said.
"He’s also demonstrating that physicalness that you’re talking about. His ability to finish runs has really been apparent to us. Certainly helped us a great deal as an offense and as a team."
Garrett sees many of the same traits in Gallman that he has seen in some of the great running backs that he has worked with during his playing and coaching tenures with the Dallas Cowboys, including Emmitt Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, and Demarco Murray.
"I was fortunate to be on a Cowboy team in the ’90s for eight years and our running back was Emmitt Smith," Garrett said.
"Every week we would play against defenses whose number one objective was to slow him down. Somehow, someway, he still made yards. He still made an impact on the defense. A big part of that was falling forward and really controlling the tempo of the game."
"We had similarly good running backs in Dallas when I was coaching there. Whether it was Marion Barber, DeMarco Murray, or Zeke Elliott. I really think in a lot of ways Wayne Gallman has been doing that for our football team for the last month and a half. "
Gallman has undoubtedly shown that he is running with a purpose this season, as his role in the offense was anything but a guaranteed opportunity.
After a somewhat promising rookie season in 2017, in which he racked up 476 rushing yards on 111 carries, the new regime led by former head coach Pat Shurmur left Gallman on the backburner once Barkley was drafted.
Somewhere along the line, Gallman fell out of favor with the last coaching staff. By the end of the 2019 season, Gallman had been exiled to the inactive list for reasons that, to this day, he still doesn't fully understand.
Now, the fresh start with this year's coaching staff has allowed Gallman's talent to manifest in a meaningful way for the Giants and head coach Joe Judge, who is very impressed with Gallman's motivated running style.
"Wayne’s done a good job running aggressive for us," Judge said. "That comes to me from just his will and effort at the end of the run to play through contact, keep his legs driving, and push for that extra yard.
"The biggest thing he’s shown improvement on is playing with good pad level and ball security and driving through to make sure he drives that extra yard.
"That’s something you have a concern with any player early in training camp, especially, of making sure they can go ahead and keep fighting throughout the play without exposing the ball. He’s done a good job to this point of really improving on that, and I’m really happy with the way Wayne’s playing."
The Giants might have to lean on Gallman in an even bigger way this upcoming Sunday in Seattle against the Seahawks, as Jones is projected to be unavailable with a hamstring issue.
With veteran backup Colt McCoy potentially set to start, Gallman's power rushing could prove to be the most potent offensive tool the Giants have at their disposal.
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