Last season, Giants rookie running back David Wilson overcame a slow start to dazzle late, leaving Big Blue fans salivating for his encore performance on Broadway in 2013. He averaged five yards per carry, scored five touchdowns on the ground and averaged 27 yards on kick returns, adding a big-play and speedy dimension to the New York attack.
There is no doubting Wilson's natural talent and ability. If healthy, he could help Big Blue achieve big things. In fact, Wilson could easily end the campaign as one of the most dynamic players in all of football.
So now, the question becomes, how can the Giants help Wilson shoulder the workload of a full season, help him reach his massive potential and coax the most productivity out of him?
As with all running backs in the NFL, it starts with ball security.
Wilson landed in head coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse following a Week 1 fumble against the Dallas Cowboys in a game that the Giants would eventually lose. In the aftermath of the opening night debacle, Wilson received only 16 carries in the next 10 games of the season and contributed almost solely on special teams.
However, Wilson was able to turn it around in the final six contests, not fumbling once, which was an extremely promising and positive development for both Wilson and the Giants coaching staff.
The last uber-talented Giants running back to have fumbling issues was Tiki Barber, and it's worth noting that Barber went out of his way this offseason to lavish praise on Wilson. Barber was able to correct his problems with ball security, and he clearly sees the same potential from Wilson.
Next up for the Giants is to exploit Wilson's breakneck speed, and the best way to accomplish that goal is with perimeter runs and the screen game. While Wilson only caught four passes in 2012, expect that number to spike in 2013 as the Giants will look to get him the ball out on the edge.
New York also shouldn't be afraid to help Wilson with the fullback, whether it be incumbent starter Henry Hynoski, recovering from knee surgery, or free agent Vonta Leach, whom the Giants are rumored to have interest in.
Then, there's the issue of pass protection. If you want to be an every-down running back in Tom Coughlin's offense, you simply must be able to protect quarterback Eli Manning from the incoming blitz.
While Wilson didn't sparkle in that role in 2012, running backs coach Jerald Ingram has been pleased with his development in that regard this offseason. The importance of Wilson's progress cannot be overstated. If he can become a consistent pass-protector, it will allow him more time on the field and thus give him more opportunities to gouge the opposing defense.
The Giants (and Wilson) are lucky to have another talented back on their roster in Andre Brown, who played very well in 2012. On the season, he scored eight touchdowns and averaged over five yards per carry. In fact, Brown believes that there is an opportunity for both he and Wilson to flash in 2013.
While some might argue that the presence of Brown might hamper Wilson's ability to reach his potential, it's actually quite the opposite. It's a long season, and using Brown throughout will keep Wilson's legs fresher for the stretch run. Remember, the Giants are a team with significant playoff aspirations, and having Wilson healthy for the end of the season will be paramount to their potential success.
If the Giants are able to accomplish these goals and help Wilson shoulder the workload of a full season, the sky is the limit for the second-year running back.
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