Wayne Gallman
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

With Saquon Barkley sidelined for the next four-to-eight weeks, Wayne Gallman is ready to make the most of his great New York Giants opportunity.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The euphoria of the New York Giants’ 32-31 come-from-behind victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday was dimmed just a bit. When it was revealed that the Giants will be without superstar running back Saquon Barkley for the next four-to-eight weeks with a high ankle sprain, the excitement had to be tempered.

Losing a player the caliber of Barkley can be devastating to a team. But the Giants have been accustomed to having a next-man-up mentality while dealing with summer injuries and the Golden Tate suspension.

Obviously, one individual can’t replicate Barkley’s production on the field; he is one of the most dynamic players in the league. There was speculation that the Giants may look to bring in a veteran running back such as C.J. Anderson to possibly compete to be the lead back. But the Giants are confident that third-year back Wayne Gallman will be more than just an adequate replacement for Barkley during his absence.

Gallman was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft (140th overall) by former general manager Jerry Reese. Gallman would go onto have a solid rookie season, splitting time with Orleans Darkwa, and gained 476 yards on 111 carries behind a bad offensive line.

He also showed his versatility by catching 34 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown.

When the Giants declined not to re-sign Darkwa, there was a belief that Gallman may be the lead back for the 2018 season. But all of that changed when Dave Gettleman took Barkley with the second-overall pick in the draft.

Maybe the disappointment of not being the starter affected Gallman last season. His yards-per-carry dipped from 4.3 to 3.5 and he caught just 14 passes for 89 yards.

But Gallman has put the 2018 season behind him and he’s ready to make the most of his opportunity as the lead back starting this Sunday against the Redskins.

“I view it as a big opportunity, an opportunity I’ve had since I came into the league,” Gallman proclaimed. “It’s unfortunate for my brother to go out, but this is what I’ve prepared for, this is what I have been preparing for, so I’m ready for it.”

The fact that Gallman is one of the few remaining players from the Reese regime shows that Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur believe in his ability.

On Wednesday, Shurmur provided his thoughts on what type of player Gallman is.

“He’s kind of a twitchy guy,” Shurmur said. “He does a good job of getting it up in the hole. He has good collision balance. He’s improved catching the football. He’s pretty good with our pass protection. He’s a good all-around player, and he’s going to be asked to do more.”

Gallman may not get the number of carries that Barkley would normally get, but he will get the bulk of the carries on Sunday against a Redskins defense that is giving up 142 yards-per-game on the ground.

With the best offensive line he’s ever played with in his pro career, Wayne Gallman will finally get his chance to shine as a lead back.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.