Giants Trying Key Free Agent WR at Different Position

Parris Campbell

Getty The New York Giants are trying a key free agent at a different position.

The New York Giants signed Parris Campbell from the Indianapolis Colts in free agency as part of a makeover of the targets around quarterback Daniel Jones. Yet, wide receiver Campbell has been working at a different position during offseason drills.

Campbell spent time at running back during practice on Wednesday, June 14, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. Duggan attached a note about how versatile wideouts Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson did the same thing a year ago.

Campbell getting some work among the backs is a sign the Giants intend to continue using receivers in the running game. It’s a concept head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka used sparingly last season, but Campbell is an ideal fit for the hybrid role thanks to his history in Indy and at Ohio State.

New Face Can Become Giants ‘Wide Back’

Campbell has been a rushing threat dating back to his days with the Buckeyes. He carried the ball 23 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns during three years at Ohio State, per Sports Reference.

One of those scores came courtesy of this spectacular scamper against Michigan in 2018, highlighted by Fox College Football.

The Colts hardly made full use of Campbell’s skills as a runner after drafting him 59th overall in 2019. He tallied a mere 11 rushes during four years in Indianapolis.

One of Campbell’s best runs came against the Giants’ NFC East rivals the Washington Commanders in Week 8 last season.

What Campbell consistently proved whenever he took a handoff was his ability to gain yards in chunks before contact. The 6-foot, 208-pounder gained 89 of his 108 rushing yards for the Colts before contact, per Pro Football Reference.

Those numbers are ample proof of the game-breaking speed Campbell can attack defenses with from anywhere on the field. It’s up to Daboll and Kafka to design as many ways as possible to unleash that talent.

Their template should be the “Wide Back” role Deebo Samuel made famous with the San Francisco 49ers. The All-Pro wide receiver became a de facto running back during the 2021 season, carrying the ball 59 times and coining a hybrid role in the process.

Samuel added 42 carries to his workload last season, and while the Giants are unlikely to feed Campbell as often, Daboll’s already shown a willingness to get receivers involved on the ground.

Giants Still Looking to Replace Kadarius Toney

Daboll inherited Kadarius Toney and initially tried to maximize the hybrid skills the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2021 had previously shown. Those traits were obvious on this jet sweep against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, captured by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants.

Toney surprisingly didn’t fit in the Daboll scheme, eventually being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Watching Toney help the Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII must have had the Giants wondering what if?

The wondering can stop if Campbell assumes the role Toney should have made his own. It’s not as if Daboll and Kafka gave up on the role after Toney had left town.

Plays like this quick flip to rookie wideout Wan’Dale Robinson against the Jacksonville Jaguars, highlighted by Seven Rounds in Heaven, proved the Giants’ commitment to the hybrid plan.

The runs by Toney and Robinson were packaged in similar ways. Specifically, each involved a fake to running back Saquon Barkley to confuse and freeze a defense long enough for the speed around the corner to take full effect.

Daboll can use similar designs to free Campbell, although the latter’s primary responsibility will still be to help Jones improve as a passer. The latter needs to live up to the four-year, $160-million contract he signed this offseason, so new targets like Campbell, Pro-Bowl tight end Darren Waller and rookie deep threat Jalin Hyatt must deliver.

It’s a tall order for Campbell, who never exceeded 63 receptions nor 623 yards with the Colts. The track record of production isn’t obvious, but Campbell has been impressing from the slot during minicamp, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.

Sending Campbell out of the backfield could be one more way to get him the ball through the air, while flexing him from the slot to take a handoff from Jones would catch defenses playing pass cold.

The more ways the Giants can use Campbell, the easier it will be to keep defenses guessing and generate some much-needed big plays in both phases.