The time has arrived. David Wilson will be given the reigns and the chance to be an everydown back for the Giants when they open Camp in August.
Following the release of Ahmad Bradshaw, (while disappointing in certain aspects was definitely inevitable) Wilson and Andre Brown appear to be the biggest benefactors. As a Giants fan, I have to acknowledge how much of a grinder Bradshaw was. He battled bone spurs in his ankles and numerous foot injuries throughout his career with the Giants. He never complained, always played tough and still managed to produce two 1000 yard seasons in 3 years as a starter. Following another injury to his foot and with two healthier backs waiting in the wings, it was a typical cap-casualty seen far too many times in today’s NFL.
Bradshaw’s loss is Andre Brown’s and mostly David Wilson’s gain. There are very few four down players in the league at this point. Typically guys like Wilson, who have tremendous athleticism, come in as rookies and establish themselves on special teams before they gain the trust of their coaches and teammates and dive into bigger roles and become four down players. We have seen that with guys like C.J. Spiller, DeSean Jackson and Jamaal Charles and it was no different with Wilson. He showed absolutely blazing speed whether it was returning kicks, punts or taking handoffs. Wilson’s breakout game against the Saints this past season was one to remember where he rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries and had two return touchdowns. With his expected increased role, the traditional rule of thumb, especially as a running back would be to have him relinquish his special teams duties. But with his type of speed, agility and with how quickly he breaks through the wedge on kickoffs, taking him completely out of the return game would be a mistake. Your best players should be on the field in key situations. Tom Coughlin has always run with a time-share for his runners and as such, Andre Brown will figure into the equation perfectly as a between the tackles/goaline back. In those instances, Wilson should be allowed to line up in certain situations such as slot receiver and of course, in the return game. The field position he gave the Giants came up big in games where their offense struggled mightly with Hakeem Nicks for most of the season. Make no mistake about it, David Wilson can be as much of an every down back as some of the rookie runners he was in the draft with last April.
The two areas where most young backs have issues staying on the field are ball security and pass protection. Wilson struggled at times last year and was in Coughlin’s dog house early on. As most rookies do, when they struggle, they get demoted to special teams. He worked his way back up the depth chart and another Bradshaw injury allowed him to regain first team snaps and show how much of a big play threat he is. With a bigger role at the helm, he will be able to hone his skills during mini-camp and OTA’s all the way till training camp. I expect a big year for Wilson (as well as Brown) and utilization similar to the way Buffalo mixes in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spilller.