Ask any New York Giants fan who they would like to see Big Blue keep as their week one running backs, and you may hear a series of different answers. But despite running back Peyton Hillis being injured since August 6th, there are still many fans that would like to have him stay.
Hillis returned to practice Sunday after suffering injuries to his foot and ankle. In that eighteen day span, the Giants played three of their five preseason games, and Hillis was unsure if he would be ready in time for the preseason finale against the New England Patriots.
Hillis spoke to the media Sunday after his first practice back.
“Oh my goodness, it was nice,” Hillis said in response to being asked how it felt to be on the field again. “It was good to be out there with the guys again, just fun. I’m looking forward to hopefully playing this week (in the preseason finale vs. New England).”
Hillis' productivity in practice this week is a good indication that he has fully recovered. Wednesday's practice saw Hillis make a juggling catch off a deflected pass from Ryan Nassib. Peyton also brought up that it was important to him to get back on the field so he can learn the offense hands on.
“A lot of it is just repetition, getting in there, learning your reads in the run game and in the pass game,” he said. “Get stuff down so it becomes second nature. All that takes is getting in there and doing it. You can’t be on the sideline doing that.”
Running backs Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams are leading the race now when it comes to New York's week one running game. Michael Cox looks to be in the hunt for that third spot while Kendall Gaskins is the wild card. Peyton Hillis has the steepest hill to climb after missing three games, but his experience arguably rises above the rest out of the five, but none of that matters when he, at this moment, is competing for that third spot. Hillis compared his mindset towards making the roster to a rookie's.
“That’s the mindset you’ve got to have,” Hillis said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what upstairs (coaches and management) is going to do, so you just have to go out there and do your best.”
The one thing however that is in Hillis' favor is that in March, the Giants gave him a two year contract extension worth $1.8 million. So cutting him this season will result in a decent sized cap hit. The 28-year-old still has plenty of fight left in him, and many Giants fans hope to see him in an expanded role against the Patriots to help his roster chances. Should he get waived, it is certain that teams will line up to take him.
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