Jonathan Stewart, the 31-year-old former Carolina running back wants everyone to know that reports of his career’s passing have been greatly exaggerated.
“I’ve got a lot left. The only reason why I would be playing is if I knew I could play and I know I can play, Dave (Gettleman, Giants general manager) knows I can play — there is a lot that I feel I want to prove and writing my story as far as how things shape up moving forward for me,” Stewart said during a Wednesday conference call with the media covering the team.
Stewart, who said he drew interest from the Seahawks and Lions before clicking with the Giants where he’ll be reunited with Mike Shula, the Giants offensive coordinator who held the same role with the Panthers, has primarily been a running back in his career that has occasionally been asked to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Since 2008, when he began his career, Stewart has only caught 162 balls for 1,295 yards and 7 touchdowns. But if Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, whose offense in Minnesota made use of the running back as a receiver out of the backfield, is asked to fill that role, Stewart said he’s ready.
“I believe I definitely can fit that role. It wasn’t really asked of me to do in Carolina, but I have that quality to my game and Dave knows that and I’m pretty sure Pat knows that. Pat believes in having a running back that can be all phases, which is run, block and catch. I am totally aware of that and I’m ready for it.”
In fact, it was his familiarity with Gettleman and Shula were significant factors in his decision to sign what has been reported as a two-year deal with the Giants.
“It played a significant role,” Stewart said. “Dave believes in mem, and it’s just good to know that the GM believes in what you can do on the field, and Mike Shula, there is a familiarity with the offense and the scheme, and I believe in what they’re going to do moving forward with the draft. They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot of good players on offense and defense and I’m just excited to be a part of it.
Stewart is excited to meet his new teammates, particularly running backs Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman, the only Giants running backs with experience under contract, and begin building a relationship with them.
“I’m definitely excited to go in there and share my wisdom as being a professional in this business and learn, too, from the younger guys as well,” he said.
“There is always room for growth and I’m excited to be a part of that running back group and I’m sure we have a lot to look forward to at the end of the day. The sky is the limit and I’m excited to meet those guys and be a part of the team.”
In Stewart, the Giants are also getting a player who has been part of a historically strong locker room culture, a fact that was no doubt one in his favor.
“At the end of the day, having a good group of guys that mesh well and have a good chemistry and just understanding the end goal, which is to win championships and to have a family-oriented culture (is important),” he said.
“I think moving forward, I’m pretty sure that’s kind of the culture that New York is expected to have next year, which is the reason that I gravitated towards the decision with the Giants. I’m excited about the opportunity at hand and I’m grateful for the owners taking a chance on me and trusting in the GM and the coaching staff to trust me.”