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New York Giants: Three Things David Wilson Must Do in Week 1

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | David Wilson is the ultimate X-factor in the New York Giants' Week 1 matchup with the rival Dallas Cowboys.

Wilson's night didn't go as planned in the Week 1 opener against the 'Boys in 2012, but with a year of experience under his belt, Wilson is poised to be an up-and-coming running back in the NFL, and it all starts at Dallas on Sunday night.

I'm sure most of these seem like obvious things that Wilson must do, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they're extremely crucial to the Giants' success in Week 1. Here are three things Wilson must do in Week 1 for the Giants to have success.

Chip In Protecting Eli Manning

Aside from his relentless attack on the ground, one of the things New York will miss most about Ahmad Bradshaw was his ability to help in pass protection and keep Eli Manning safe. After all, Manning has yet to miss a start since taking over full time in 2004.

Now with Wilson as the starter, Manning will require help from the young running back to chip in in pass protection, especially given the state of the Giants' offensive line.

David Diehl has already been ruled out for Sunday night while center David Baas is reportedly still a week away from seeing the field. Given New York's woes along the offensive line, rookie Justin Pugh will get the start, which further highlights the importance of Wilson helping out in pass protection.

The Cowboys ranked tied for 20th in the NFL last season in total sacks, but anytime you're dealing with two-time NFL sack leader DeMarcus Ware, you need to have your head on a swivel.

The Giants need Wilson to make a difference in the running game, but they also need him to help keep Manning safe.

Convert in Short Yardage Situations and Red Zone

Wilson put his versatility on display last season--most notably against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14--and he'll be required to do much of the same against the Cowboys.

The two situations that I'm looking toward Wilson to really step it up are in short yardage situations and in the red zone. It's no secret that the G-Men struggled in the red zone during the preseason, and short yardage situations have continued to be an issue for the Giants and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride over the years.

With Wilson, he has the ability to convert first downs or touchdowns in either of these situations because of his speed, power and pass catching abilities. A simple pitch to the outside could lead to big yards for the Giants while a short screen pass or dump off could also be beneficial for Big Blue.

Wilson could take a lot of pressure off of Manning and the Giants' passing offense by stepping up and converting on the ground.

Protect the Football

Remember what happened last season when David Wilson couldn't hang onto the football?

It was Week 1--his first career game in the NFL--and Wilson coughed the ball up against the Cowboys, who he'll coincidentally be playing against on Sunday night.

That fumble against Dallas last season put Wilson in Tom Coughlin's dog house, as the rookie didn't see a double-digit carry load until Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints, when he broke out and carried the ball 13 times for 100 yards and two scores on the ground.

Wilson has been known to fumble in his career, especially when he was at Virginia Tech. Luckily for the Giants, Wilson only lost the ball once last season, but he has to continue that trend on Sunday night against the Cowboys.

You can be sure Dallas safety Barry Church will be looking to rack up another forced fumble, and there's no doubt DeMarcus Ware will be looking to make an impact against the rival Giants also.

Above everything else, Wilson must hang onto the football to give the Giants the best chances of winning in Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season.

Pete Schauer is a native of the Jersey Shore where he's covered the New York Giants for multiple sports media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @Pete_Schauer and find him on Google+.

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