|Rookie running back David Wilson is ready for an increased role as another Giant goes down with an injury. (US Presswire)|
The phrase “next man up” is one of those cliché expressions that the Giants overuse.
It also happens to be true. After all, you don’t win two Super Bowls in five years without replacing some injured players along the way.
And now that Brown suffered a broken fibula in Sunday’s 38-10 win over the Packers and was subsequently placed on short-term IR, it’s rookie David Wilson’s turn.
“It’s your time to step up now, so I’m definitely going to go in this week and prepare and take full advantage,” said Wilson, who has been used sparingly on offense since being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilson has already accumulated over 1,000 yards as a kick returner this year. Unfortunately for the Virginia Tech product, the Giants coaching staff hasn’t fully committed to him in the backfield for a number of reasons.
Primarily, Bradshaw and Brown have been productive, combining for 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns on 234 carries this season. But the pair -- particularly Bradshaw -- is also adept at protecting QB Eli Manning, and until a back is able to pick up the blitz regularly, he’s not going to see many carries in this offense.
Enter second-year fullback Henry Hynoski.
“I’ve been working with [Wilson] mainly on pass protection stuff, just telling him, ‘After practice I want you to have all your protections written down and who you are assigned to, and what the adjustments can be,’ and he did that,” Hynoski said. “He’s done a pretty good job so far, and I’m going to be extra hard on him this week getting him prepared and I know coaches will be, too.”
Hynoski asked the former ACC Player of the Year to write down all of the Giants’ different protections and what his (Wilson’s) responsibilities are on each play.
Wilson supposedly did well. He told reporters on Monday that he had all of his assignments correct on the quiz. Wilson did omit one protection scheme, but Hynoski reminded him and Wilson ended up correctly writing in his own assignment.
“It’s good for him to step up and care that much and try to help me a little bit,” Wilson said. “And it definitely helps a little bit to have like a quiz or something and then you can show you know it to your teammates and then you can also… see how much you know and how quick you can answer it and have the confidence.”
Wilson hasn’t yielded a sack in his brief playing time this season (he said the perception that he can’t protect the quarterback comes from his own game film from college). He also hasn’t run the ball particularly well, either.
If you omit his 40-yard touchdown run against the Browns in Week 5, Wilson is averaging just 2.69 yards per carry and has only three first downs in 23 attempts.
But despite the poor numbers, Coughlin used Sunday’s game as a chance to see more from Wilson and ultimately determine if he wanted to give the rookie more playing time over the seasons’ final few weeks.
Ironically, Wilson was already warming up to enter Sunday’s game when Brown suffered his leg injury in the fourth quarter.
“Well, let’s put it this way,” Coughlin said. “He had 11 plays last night. If I was going into the game and wanted to sort it out, and find out what he could and couldn’t do and give him a chance, it probably would’ve been close to that number [of plays] in the game.
“It’s his time,” Coughlin continued. “The timing as far as where he’s coming from couldn’t be any better, I don’t think. If he’s been very vigilant, and paid attention to the way that people have been corrected in front of him, then he’s going to give himself the best opportunity. It is a great opportunity for him and I think for our team as well, in terms of what could develop here in this stage of the season for David.”
Bradshaw, who remains the starter, experienced a similar situation as a rookie when Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs suffered injuries toward the end of the 2007 season. Bradshaw responded with a 17-carry, 151-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills in late December, which opened the door for him to contribute throughout the playoffs and ultimately in the Super Bowl win over the Patriots.
It’s a story Wilson has heard repeatedly and hopes to replicate in front on Monday night against the Washington Redskins.
“Andre played a big role in our offense, so with his absence somebody’s gonna to have to definitely step up on the offensive side of the ball and, you know, the coaches told me that I’m the next guy, so I’ve been preparing and hopefully I’ll be ready when they call my number,” Wilson said.