Rashad Jennings missed five games due to an ankle injury last season, but the 30-year-old running back is health and ready to carry the load for the New York Giants.
“I’m good,” Jennings said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’m back to health. I’m down here training in Florida where the heat is. I’m enjoying my offseason right now. But as far as the field is concerned, I’m excited. I’m thrilled to get back with the guys and get back in this offense and kind of pick up some of the positives things we did and keep it moving forward.”
The Giants finished 6-10 last season but won three of their final four games, mainly due to the emergence of rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who had 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. Beckham brought an excitement to the Giants that hadn’t been there since their Super Bowl season in 2011.
Jennings expects that to continue into 2015.
“The expectation is high,” he said. “With everybody coming back healthy, going back into year two under the same system (with) familiarity – there’s some cohesiveness there. We’re starting to gel together. (We’re) entering OTAs and not trying to figure out where to line up. (It’s) more so about making plays now. The expectation is extremely high, especially with the talent we have in that locker room.”
And especially with the talent lost in the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles, for example, got rid of LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and Jeremy Maclin.
Jennings was asked if he pays much attention to offseason transactions.
“You pay attention a little bit,” he said. “At the end of the day, the game of football is never going to change. It’s about lining up, executing and beating the man in front of you. In the offseason, you really try to focus on your craft, take time to study the tape throughout the whole year – every play that you was in. For me, I studied every play that I touched the football. Every block, every catch. That’s really what my focus is right now.
“But yeah, you do (pay attention),” Jennings continued. “You see the offseason moves and some you laugh at. Some you’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that one.’ I’m down here training with a bunch of guys. So when you mentioned McCoy, he’s one of the guys I’m working out with. I was surprised to hear that one. Actually, the game of football, you’re truly never too surprised. That’s the nature of the game.”
Jennings said that McCoy – the all-time leading rusher in Eagles history – is not bitter about the trade.
“He has nothing but good things to say, honestly,” Jennings said. “He enjoyed his time there. They brought him in and gave him his opportunity. He absolutely had a great career there, but there’s a business to it. Sometimes you got to shake hands and keep it moving. He’s looking forward to getting (up) there with the Bills and moving forward with them.”
The Giants, meanwhile, are happy to move forward with Tom Coughlin. The 68-year-old was rumored to be on the hot seat at the end of last season, but the Giants elected to bring him back.
Former Giant Tiki Barber wondered if this is a make-or-break season for Coughlin and whether Jennings and his teammates feel pressure to win.
“You always think you need to win,” Jennings said. “But (I’m) going into my seventh year in the league, and I’ve played under a couple different head coaches. There’s nothing like paying for Tom Coughlin. He’s a true leader, he demands a lot for respect and he’s the kind of guy you want to play for. So when everybody on the team heard he was (coming) back, we were excited. We were texting each other, thrilled to have him back. We know this is the nature of the game. I wouldn’t say it’s make-or-break because I think what Coach Coughlin has done in this league, he’s already made. But as far as moving forward, we all want him there. So everybody’s going to do their part to make sure he’s still there.”