Jennings has missed time due to a knee sprain suffered against the Atlanta Falcons at the beginning of October.
During the game on Sunday, the Giants lost backup running back Peyton Hillis to a concussion and Michael Cox to a broken leg.
The Giants running game is practically non-existent right now, moving at a rate that harkens back to the old axiom "three yards and a cloud of dust." Except one thing: they're not getting those three yards per carry.
Much of that has to do with the offensive line's failure to create the required gaps for the backs to get to the second level. But the reality is, they miss Jennings.
"Rashad is a tremendous player and a guy we brought in this offseason to be the starting running back and he was playing well for us early in the year," said QB Eli Manning on Monday. "He runs the ball well. [He] has a great feel and does a good job in protection. [He] catches the ball well out of the backfield on screens and on pass plays. I think Andre (Williams) has done a heck of a job filling in and running hard, but it would be good to have that 1-2 punch."
It sure would. Jennings racked up 396 yards through Week 5, which at the time, was good enough for fourth in the NFL. Four weeks later, Jennings still leads the team in rushing. Williams has been averaging just 2.9 yards per carry.
Without Jennings in the lineup the past four games, the Giants' rushing output has gone from an average of 121 YPG to 85 YPG. The Giants are 0-4 over that stretch.
Jennings practiced last week but was ruled out of the Seattle game. He wasn't ready. During the game, the Giants struggled again and then lost Peyton Hillis to a concussion and Michael Cox to a broken leg. If there ever was time for Jennings to reassert himself into the offense, it's this week.
Monday, on a conference call with reporters, Tom Coughlin was asked where Jennings is in his rehab and when he might be returning to the lineup. Will he play vs San Francisco this week?
"I think he will, I’m hoping that he will," Coughlin said. "He did have a good week of practice last week for what we asked him to do. He had a weekend to continue to rehab and strengthen, so he has worked hard at that. I am going to say that we certainly do expect that he will be ready at the end of this week, but who knows? I can’t tell you 100 percent, but I think he will, and if he is ready, then obviously he will have a big share of the load."
If there is any chance of salvaging this season, it will come with the resurgence of the the running game. At the outset of the season, Jennings was the "bell cow" back that GM Jerry Reese said he would be. He was right. They're lost without him.
From Michael Eisen of Giants.com:
Jennings is the perfect candidate to re-energize the ground game. His 396 rushing yards are 61 more than Williams has – on 23 fewer carries. Jennings, signed as a free agent on March 12, was one of the Giants’ most productive players early in the season. His 34 carries and 176 yards in a victory over Houston on Sept. 21 are still the high totals in the NFL this season.The Giants play the San Francisco 49ers this week, who are notoriously staunch against the run.