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Giants' revamped running game inconsistent

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants spent much of their offseason resources to overhaul a running game that finished 29th in the league last year. After one preseason game, statistics aren't impressive.

Among the changes was the promotion of second-year pro Paul Perkins as the starter, replacing Rashad Jennings, a salary-cap casualty.

The Giants also signed blocking tight end Rhett Ellison to help supplement an offensive line that returns the same five starters who played most of the snaps last year, and added via the draft running back Wayne Gallman, a tall power back they're hoping might become the full-time answer on short-yardage and goal-line situations.

In Friday night's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Giants had a chance to see the revamped running game in action, which at times reintroduced a pure fullback. The Giants ran the ball 23 times for 73 yards (3.2 average) with zero touchdowns and a long of 13 yards, that coming on an end-around play by receiver Travis Rudolph.

Remove runs by the receivers and quarterbacks, and the Giants’ running backs -- Perkins, Gallman, Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen and Khalid Abdullah -- totaled 18 rushes for 47 yards (2.6 average).

Head coach Ben McAdoo summed up the running game's performance as being some good and some bad.

"We had some inconsistencies," he said via conference call. "We wanted to try and get some outside zone going in the ballgame just to work it, and it's always tough to do that when you're playing a 3-4 (defensive alignment) team."

Getting more specific, McAdoo noted that he liked what he saw from the downhill game vs. the stretch game. In the first half, the Giants managed to record 46 yards rushing on 13 carries (3.5 average) by running from a variety of formations including a traditional I, offset, and single back.

At times, the Giants used a tight end to lead block. Rhett Ellison started the game, and then was relieved by Jerrell Adams. At other times, the Giants used a fullback. Shane Smith started the game before being relieved by Jacob Huesman.

It's a start for the Giants, who this year are looking to be more balanced on offense between the pass and the run, but as left guard Justin Pugh noted, it is still a work in progress that is coming along and will continue to come along with more practice.

"I think (the running backs) are still feeling us out and we're feeling them out; what runs work best for them," said Pugh. "Coach learns those things too, what they like to be called in certain situations. So, it's something we definitely want to build from. It's preseason game 1, so we're not freaking out over anything. We don't get too high, and we don't get too low.

"It's back to work on Sunday."

Notes: Safety Duke Ihenacho suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of the Giants' preseason loss to the Steelers. Ihenacho will likely be sidelined a few days starting Sunday, when the team returns to practice. ... Linebacker Calvin Munson suffered a knee contusion, but his injury isn't believed to be serious. ... Quarterback Eli Manning was declared a healthy scratch before the start of the preseason opener. Manning has missed only nine preseason games (out of 54) since joining the Giants in 2004, including six because of a coach's decision and not an injury. ... Linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion) remains in the league's protocol. Robinson has been out of practice since last Wednesday. ... Defensive tackle Robert Thomas (lower body soreness) is on track to return to practice Sunday on a limited basis.

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