Giants see Paul Perkins as viable three-down RB

The New York Giants are all in on Paul Perkins.

When Big Blue failed to add a veteran or early-round draft pick to the backfield, the signal was clear that the second-year runner would be the lead back.

The coaching staff is comfortable heading into the 2017 season with Perkins as a three-down back after watching his play improve down the stretch last season.

"Well, what he's shown is ... in our system you have to have three phases: You have to be able to run the ball. He was an effective runner last year," running backs coach Craig Johnson said, via ESPN's Jordan Raanan. "You have to be able to catch the ball. He did a good job in that. And you have to be able to block people, because they are going to try you out. He probably improved the most in that situation. Guys were going to test him out to see if they were going to get to the quarterback. He held up very good in protection and he's continuing to do that.

"If you can do that, that allows you to be a guy that it's possible to stay on the field all three downs."

Behind Perkins sits pass-catching back Shane Vereen, fourth-round rookie Wayne Gallman, and plebian veterans Orleans Darkwa and Shaun Draughn.

Perkins began last season buried on the depth chart, earning a total of 10 carries before the team's Week 8 bye. Down the stretch, he became the go-to between the tackles runner. Perkins ended the regular season with a 21-tote, 102-yard performance in a win over the Redskins.

As a rookie, Perkins struggled the most in pass protection early in the season -- not unusual for a first-year back -- but the Giants believe he's made strides towards becoming a complete player this offseason.

"I really like what Paul Perkins has been doing so far," Johnson said. "He ended last season playing like a guy that is ready to take over the job. There is nothing so far in the offseason to show he's not going to be able to handle that role.

"But that is today. It's a long way from today to the opening game."

It might be a long way from opening week, but it's clear in June that the Giants' hopes for a productive run game sit squarely on the shoulders of Perkins.