The Giants are known for drafting or signing players, then holding them back until they are ready to use them. This year, the team's two biggest breakout stars - DE Jason Pierre-Paul and Victor Cruz - were second-year players who were only allowed to put their toes in the water as rookies.
JPP was drafted in the middle of the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while Cruz was signed after the draft as a UDFA. Both showed great promise as rookies, but JPP was forced to wait his turn and hone his trade while Cruz hurt his hamstring and then found himself on IR, a victim of roster roulette.
You don't need me to fill you in on their success this season. They are both household names these days. The Giants played it perfectly with them. Now, they are ready to spring some more weapons that they have been harboring at you. The most obvious one is RB Da'Rel Scott, who was adroitly drafted by GM Jerry Reese with his final selection in last April's draft.
"We took a flyer on the guy because he is big and fast...," Reese said after the draft. "We hope this guy develops into a Willie Parker, one of those kinds of things."
There are two things you notice when you watch the Giants' returners practice. The first is how fast Aaron Ross is. Unfortunately, for the Giants, speed isn't everything.
The second is how fast Scott is. He is different, because he is a running back with receiver speed (he runs a 4.3 40 and his 4.34 was the fastest for a RB at the Combine last year). He can carry the football long distances in a short periods of time.
When I was asked on a radio program this year about any players besides Cruz and JPP that the fans should look for, I said, "Da'Rel Scott. He may not play much this year, but 2012 - look out. If he can make the first tackler miss, they're all gonna miss..."
I was right. In preseason, Scott got a chance to strut his stuff. He took a handoff 97 yards for a TD vs the Bears and then bolted 65 yards to the house on a fake punt in a game vs the Patriots.
That was the last we really saw of him. Tom Coughlin put him back in the "Do not open until 2012" box. Scott dressed for 11 games, but did not return a punt. He was used primarily as a kick returner (14 returns for 341 yards - a 24.4 avg). On offense, he rushed a mere five times for 16 yards and gained 13 more on two receptions.
Those numbers don't jump out at you, and that's exactly what the Giants are hoping. Scott was not used much on offense as a rookie because he had too short a window to learn it thanks to the lockout. This year will be different. Scott will sneak up on opponents and have a breakout season.
Yesterday in Indianapolis, Coughlin began to talk about Scott, which means he's ready to spring him on NFL defenses.
"Da'Rel has shown us the one thing that we knew he had -- outstanding speed, anytime called upon, whether it be kick return on in preseason running a fake punt," Coughlin told reporters as per CBS Sports' Clark Judge. "He's worked hard and was active a great deal of the time, and even when he wasn't, he worked very hard on the scout team and did well with special plays. He showed us things that he can do, and certainly, with that year, basically having practiced more than most teams in the league, that's going to help him as well. So we look forward to continuing his development as we go through the offseason."
This is Coughlin-speak for "beware." Scott wears No. 33, not 34 as pictured above. You will not be needing me to tell you that in few months, however....