Running back Devonta Freeman was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. On Friday, some more good news trickled in for the two-time Pro Bowler.
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Giants Open 21-Day Window for Devonta Freeman’s Return
The New York Giants have opened the window for Freeman’s return to the gridiron, announcing that the seven-year pro has been designated for return from injured reserve.
RB Devonta Freeman (ankle) was on the field practicing. Looked to be moving well. Close to a return. The Giants designated him to return from IR earlier Friday. They now have 21 days to activate him if they so desire. Expect to see him some time down the stretch.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) December 18, 2020
Freeman, who was an in-season addition following a season-ending injury to Saquon Barkley, had served as the team’s starting running back dating back to Week 4 and spanning up until his most recent appearance in Week 7. Ankle and hamstring issues ultimately led to Freeman landing on IR on November 13.
Over his five appearances this season (four starts), Freeman rushed for 172 yards and one touchdown on 54 attempts. He also chipped in with seven receptions for 58 yards through the air. Prior to sustaining his injury, Freeman was beginning to carve out a major role within the Giants’ offense. Between Weeks 5-6, his two most recent game appearances which he completed in-full, Freeman averaged 19 touches per game, totaling 144 yards from scrimmage.
Now being designated to return, Freeman can practice for the next three weeks and be elevated to the team’s active roster at any point within the 21-day window.
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What Will Freeman’s Role Look Like Upon Return?
In Freeman’s absence, the Giants have ridden the Wayne Train to a 4-2 record, and don’t appear primed to hop off anytime soon. Wayne Gallman has started each of New York’s last six games at running back, in return putting up his best statistical season to date.
The four-year pro has recorded new career-highs in rushing attempts (121), rushing yards (561) and rushing touchdowns (6), the latter of which have come within the past seven games. In fact, Gallman’s six rushing touchdowns over that span are three more than he had accumulated in his previous 43 career games.
It’s clear that Gallman has cemented himself as the team’s lead dog in the backfield, at least for the remainder of the season. Behind him, veteran Alfred Morris has been a pleasant surprise, averaging an outstanding 6.7 yards per carry on 40 attempts this year. Dion Lewis has been by far the least prolific rusher of the team’s three active backs, although his 133 receiving yards through 13 games outpace both Gallman and Morris.
Freeman is clearly a superior talent to that of Morris and Lewis and would likely quickly catapult himself above both players in his return to the lineup. Freeman’s receiving abilities are something the Giants failed to capitalize on prior to his injury (seven receptions in 2020), but could ultimately be what gets him back on the field. Freeman has had three seasons of at least 54 receptions and 410 receiving yards over his career. With limitations at the quarterback position — a hobbled Daniel Jones and a serviceable, yet underwhelming Colt McCoy — having an outlet receiver with Freeman’s skillset could prove invaluable over the final stretch of the season.
In terms of his contribution to the running game, expect Freeman to work behind Gallman as a clear second option. Still, he should see his fair share of looks. As noted above, this was a guy that the Giants liked enough to feed the ball 19 times per game prior to injury.
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