Jonathan Stewart sees a chance to finally win the Super Bowl with the New York Giants, a ray of optimism and hope from the veteran running back after a dumpster fire of a season for his new team. He also sounded like a fan on Monday, hopping on the hype train about Saquon Barkley, the Giants first-round pick at running back.
But it was the chance to get to the Super Bowl and win one, Stewart said, that led him to leave the Carolina Panthers and sign with New York.
The Giants were 3-13 a year ago, a team that splintered and fractured apart despite being filled with veterans while featuring prominent stars on both sides of the ball. Now with that old coaching staff gone and a new general manager, the Giants are hoping that this year will look more like 2016 when they made the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
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It was that new general manager, Dave Gettleman, who brought Stewart in via free agency this offseason. Gettleman and Stewart spent several years together with the Panthers, including a trip to the Super Bowl 50. Getting back to the Super Bowl, Stewart said on Monday, is a key reason why he is here in New York.
“No different than any other season. I know they drafted Saquon in the first round, so you know he’s got a lot of expectations and stuff like that. But as far as my preparation for this game, it’s never going to change,” Stewart said. “It’s always prepare to be the starter because you never know when your name’s going to get called. It’s a team game. It’s a longer season and this team has a lot of talent, a lot of young guys that have a chance to be great, and that’s one of the things that I saw on this roster before signing here. I haven’t won a Super Bowl yet, and that’s what I want to do.”
In 2015 when the Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, Stewart ran for 989 yards and six touchdowns. He has seen a decline in production since then, most notably in yards per carry. He still can be a productive running back, especially as part of a backfield rotation.
Stewart said he understands why the Giants drafted the aforementioned Barkley, noting that the Penn State product has already shown off his skill set in offseason workouts. Between Barkley, drafted second overall in last month’s NFL Draft, and the addition of Stewart as well as some talent upgrade along the offensive line, the Giants have the tools to improve one of the league’s worst rushing attacks the past couple of seasons.
Barkley, he says, has already impressed.
“He’s a smart football player, he picks things up very fast. He’s explosive and he’s really good in his route running,” Stewart said. “Actually, we talked about it today, that’s one of the things that he’s really focused on, is his ability to run routes. And you can see that today, for sure.”