Since he had just signed up and been given a uniform that week, Giants running back Peyton Hillis was not expecting to get a heavy workload last Monday night against the Vikings. However, New York’s lack of depth at the halfback position and its wavering confidence in rookie Michael Cox allowed for Hillis to carry the load with 18 carries and five receptions.
“It was shocking and surreal at the same time because a week ago I wasn’t doing anything and then I was on Monday Night Football carrying the ball,” said Hillis, “I’m very thankful and I’m very blessed to be put in this situation and to have the coaches rely on me.”
While the Giants were glad to have a veteran on hand to carry the ball and provide a check-down target for quarterback Eli Manning, it’s pretty clear that the team still needs to improve at the halfback position. Hillis only gained two yards per carry on the ground on Monday, but that figure could increase this week against the Eagles as the veteran gains a better understanding of New York’s playbook.
“It increases bit by bit every day,” said Hillis of his playbook knowledge, “Sometimes I’ll take a drawback just depending on what formation the defensive line is in, are they a 3-4 or 4-3 team and what kind of presence they bring in third down situations, stuff like that. But, overall as a whole, I’m getting better and better every day.”
The Giants need Hillis to get better quickly. Despite the positive result versus Minnesota, the offensive line still had trouble giving Manning time to throw. A solid rushing attack could give an aggressive Eagles defense something else to think about besides sacking the quarterback.
“I think that, especially me, when you get in the groove of things and start going through it bit-by-bit, day-by-day and week-by-week, you get slowly better. I expect to do that. I expect that this Sunday is going to be a lot better for me, too.”
If Sunday is another good game for New York, it could propel itself back into the NFC East title discussion.