The Giants added a proven veteran to their backfield when they signed former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman to a one-year deal through the end of this season.
Freeman will join Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis as the Giants attempt to recover from Saquon Barkley’s ACL tear that ended his season during Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears. Obviously, none of those three bring the dynamic ability that Barkley does, but at this point in the season, signing Freeman was as good as the Giants were going to be able to do.
Freeman’s production has fallen since he made back to back Pro Bowls during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but he still feels like he has some gas left in the tank. Freeman rushed for just two touchdowns and 3.6 yards per career last season before being released by the Falcons.
“I feel like to everyone, there’s a lot of ball left. There are a lot of games to be played,” Freeman said. “I’m fortunate and blessed to be on this team. It’s a young team. I’m happy about the opportunity. I just think it’s a lot of growth for this team, for myself. I’m just here to help contribute as much as I can and be a part of this team."
So far, the Giants rushing game has been brutal to start the season. They’re averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, which is by far the worst mark in the league. Freeman, at this point in his career, might not be the caliber of running back to get the Giants' rushing woes turned around, but it was at least worth a shot.
“We’re happy to have Devonta,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said.
“The thing I see with him is he’s a ball guy. You can tell this guy has a lot of passion for the game, he has a lot of experience, he plays hard, he practices hard. I was very impressed yesterday out at practice with the fire he practiced with, the attention to detail, how fast he picked up on a lot of our system.”
Freeman doesn’t have much time to get in the groove before Sunday’s game against the 49ers, but he does have experience in the type of offense that the Giants will run. When Freeman was at his best in Atlanta under former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons ran a zone based running scheme, with heavy emphasis on outside zone. That’s a similar style of play to Jason Garrett’s teams with the Cowboys that became masters at zone running.
“I just think a lot of situations didn’t fit me and fit what I want to do and some of my personal goals,” Freeman said. “I know I still have a lot in the tank and I just want to go out and play football and have fun. This was a great opportunity at the right time. I’m coming in trying to compete and work to get a job and continue to get better.”
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