With injuries and a suspension sidelining the Giants’ top three receivers, the team is desperate for any wideout help it can get. However, the team’s latest volunteer to catch Eli Manning’s passes is definitely an unexpected source.
Newly acquired safety Jabrill Peppers proved after practice Tuesday that when he says he wants to help the team however possible, he really means it.
“I think I could do whatever I put my mind to,” Peppers told NJ Advance Media.
Does that include taking snaps on offense?
“I’d be open to it,” he said.
Peppers has quite the offensive acumen on his resume. While playing high school football for Don Bosco Prep and Paramus Catholic High School (both New Jersey schools), Peppers moonlighted as a defensive back, return man, and running back. He even passed the ball 17 times, giving the Giants another potential trick quarterback, a la Odell Beckham Jr. the last few seasons.
Peppers won state championships all four years he played high school football, and rushed for over 3,000 yards while scoring 43 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 57 passes and scored 17 receiving touchdowns in high school. He continued to tote the rock for a few downs in college at Michigan, where he put up 321 combined rushing and receiving yards with five touchdowns on 55 touches.
However, Peppers knows that NFL coaches aren’t usually comfortable with the idea of star defensive players risking injury on offense.
“Guys might not have gotten a chance, and guys might not want to because now it’s about making your career last as long as possible so you reap the fruits of your labor,” Peppers said.
“I definitely think there are guys that can do it. But will they do it? Will they want to do it? Will the team make them do it? Especially if they are key guys. It’s all up in the air. It depends on a lot – the type of system and type of franchise.
Although Peppers’s days as a running back are probably over, the idea of using him as a wide receiver isn’t unheard of in the NFL. First-round defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Adoree Jackson have been used as receivers in recent years. Interestingly, Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher was in charge of Arizona’s defense when Peterson caught some of those passes, so he’s given permission for his marquee defensive players to line up on offense before.
Peppers’ former Cleveland Browns head coach, Hue Jackson, promised to play Peppers on offense, saying, “Obviously, he’s going to play defense for us, but we’ll find a role for him over there on offense. No question.”
Instead, Peppers never took an offensive snap in Cleveland.
No one in the Giants organization outside of Peppers has said anything about using him on offense, but if it was up to him, he’d be the next man up after the losses of Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Corey Coleman.
“It’s nice being able to get your hands on the ball and make plays to help the team,” he said.