COMMENTARY | Second-year running back David Wilson is poised to start for the New York Giants this upcoming season. He lined up with the first-team offense and earned the approval of his coaching staff during preseason workouts and minicamp. His rising stock has some fans predicting a breakout season, but Wilson must do three basic things just to remain on the field and at the top of the depth chart.
Protect the ball -- As Wilson found out in his rookie season, the fastest way into coach Tom Coughlin's dog house is to fumble the football. Last year, Wilson put the ball on the ground in the Giants' first game of the season and promptly landed on the bench. Wilson didn't fumble again the rest of the season on offense or special teams, but that doesn't mean he's in the clear. If Wilson can't hold on to the football, the Giants easily could turn to Andre Brown, who didn't fumble at all last season.
Protect the quarterback -- If Wilson starts, he'll be replacing the hard-nosed Ahmad Bradshaw, who didn't get enough credit for his pass-protection skills. Ironically, blocking may be the weakest part of Wilson's game. As offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride put it, Wilson "started with no clue on who to block, much less how to block," but is "getting better at it." He'll have to be at least good at it, otherwise the Giants are going to reduce his snaps on passing downs. Obviously, protecting Eli Manning is the team's top priority (see the signing of blindside tackle Will Beatty).
Stay Focused -- Wilson will be asked to do more than just run the ball this upcoming season. He's one of the league's most dynamic kick returners and a shifty open-field runner. The Giants probably will employ him on special teams -- he totaled a league-high 1,533 kick-return yards in 2012 -- and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, in addition to his role as the lead running back. Plus, he'll be doing it all under the spotlight of the New York media. Is he mature enough to handle the load?
What are your expectations for David Wilson this season? Can he handle the starting running back role? Let me know in the comments section below.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.Sources
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