No, Wayne Gallman‘s NFL debut with the New York Giants wasn’t Kareem Hunt-esque. But it was a good start.
EAST RUTHERFORD-The casual observer may see 42 rushing yards on 11 carries as nothing to truly write home about.
But to New York Giants fans, who can be classified as anything but casual observers, it represents hope.
Running back Wayne Gallman made his NFL debut on Sunday, and the Giants’ fourth-round selection is ready for more as the Giants seek their first win against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS). Gallman did not dress for the first three games of the year but made an impact when finally called upon in Tampa Bay.
“My mom cried as always,” Gallman said with a smile as he reflected on his debut. “My dad was there, I had some other family there as well. Everybody just powered me to be the person I am, being patient, being humble about my situation. They knew what was going to happen when I got in, and they know there’s more to come.”
Celebrating his 23rd birthday on Sunday, Gallman had one he’d never forget, scoring his first career touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Eli Manning. He didn’t, however, get the present he really wanted, a win. The Giants are currently winless after the first quarter of the season, done in for the second consecutive week by a last-second field goal.
The 0-4 hole is something that Gallman isn’t used to. He lost five games in three seasons at Clemson University, the last two years ending in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The latter ended in a 35-31 victory over Alabama last January, a game that featured a Gallman touchdown. It capped off a Clemson career that encompassed 3,429 yards, good for fifth all-time in the Tiger record books. The 1,527 yards Gallman tallied in 2015 currently tops the single-season category.
The national champion said the winless Giants could take a lesson from his Dabo Swinney-led Tigers.
“We just have to remember that the best is our standard,” Gallman said. “That’s the philosophy Coach Swinney placed in our minds at Clemson. That’s how you have to approach each and every week. Even if you’re 0-4, you can’t worry about that, got to worry about the next game. That’s all we got to focus on.”
The Giants’ run game has been mired in an extended funk, the group currently ranking 31st in the NFL with a rather pathetic 59.2 yards per game. They have not stood in the upper half of the league’s rushing stats since 2012, which also marks the last time they boasted a 1,000 yard rusher (Ahmad Bradshaw with 1,015). Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen have struggled early, while Orleans Darkwa has dealt with a back issue.
“I think everyone in the running back room has their own unique preference to what they bring to the offense,” Gallman said. “I just feel like I bring everything a team needs. Whether it’s running, catching, or being physical with the ball. I think I can do whatever it takes.”
The team sees a beacon of hope in Gallman, the 140th overall pick in last spring’s draft.
“He’s exciting, seems like he’s an exciting guy when he gets the ball in his hands,” Manning, whom Gallman praised for his mentorship, remarked on Tuesday. “So we just have to give him opportunities to make some plays. [He] had a nice touchdown and did some good things [last week].”
“I think he’s got a really good future,” running backs coach Craig Johnson remarked prior to the Giants’ Week 3 visit to Philadelphia. “I think that [coaches are] starting to see that he’s doing some flashy things at practice, which is good….But, you have to be ready. So, I tell him you have to prepare like you’re starting every game. That’s hard for a young player, but in the NFL, that’s the way the rules are. So, he’s doing a really good job.”
The runner himself doesn’t see himself as a savior just yet, per say. He says, however, he’s come to do one job and one job only, and he’s ready to carry on that mission.
“I’m just here to help win games,” Gallman said. “That’s all it is. The Giants picked me up, I’m ready to play.”
Gallman may have another opportunity to break out on Sunday. The equally hapless Chargers feature a run defense currently ranked second-to-last in the league, allowing 163.5 yards per game. On Sunday, the unit gave up 214 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, one that would prove to be the difference in a 26-24 loss to Philadelphia at StubHub Center.
Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490