New York Giants second-year running back David Wilson has been benched by head coach Tom Coughlin after a sloppy showing against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Wilson's bid to be the Giants' featured back fell short when he lost two fumbles and posted a dismal 2.7-yard-per-carry average.
Da'Rel Scott—a running back who was a long shot to even make the team's final roster—has received the lead role in the backfield after the benching of Wilson. Scott has been serviceable thus far; however, he is an unproven player and could leave the Giants looking for more stability going forward.
If the Giants are to pursue a veteran running back to handle the workload this season, there are a handful of players who could be worth calling.
Possibly the most obvious option, Michael Turner could bolster a lackluster backfield in a hurry. His best days are behind him, but Turner could be very serviceable in a committee approach.
Despite averaging only 3.6 yards per carry in 2012, Turner averaged at least 4.1 yards per carry in each of his eight prior NFL seasons. Turner is an excellent short-yardage and goal-line back—he was still able to get into the end zone 10 times and was responsible for 40 first downs in 2012.
Giving Turner a decreased workload by sharing touches out of the backfield could improve his longevity and bring a more stable ground game for the remainder of the season.
Cedric Benson is another bruising runner who could benefit in a committee approach in the Giants' backfield. He suffered a season-ending Lisfranc sprain early in the 2012 season and had immediate surgery. Enough time has elapsed for Benson to be fully healed—or at least enough to bring him in for a physical.
In the past, Benson did have ball security issues—he fumbled 13 times over his past two seasons in Cincinnati. However, limiting his carries seemed to help that deficiency last season in Green Bay—he fumbled just once out of his 71 carries.
He is certainly not an explosive option, but he could bring a good amount of physicality to the NFC East.
The season has already started, which means Wells can be signed without the necessity of any guaranteed money in his contract—a perfect situation for the Giants when dealing with Wells' injury history.
When Wells was healthy, he posted respectable numbers behind a porous offensive line in Arizona. He rushed for 1,047 yards, scored 10 touchdowns and averaged 4.3 yards per carry in 2011. Wells also has good enough hands to serve as a receiver out of the backfield when needed.
Certainly the youngest and most explosive runner available, the Giants could benefit from his presence in the backfield.
Despite having nine NFL seasons under his belt and more career fumbles than he'd like (28), Willis McGahee could be a very viable option as a new addition to the Giants' backfield.
In each of his nine seasons, McGahee has averaged at least 3.8 yards per carry—his best year came in 2009, averaging 5.0 yards per carry with the Baltimore Ravens.
His 8,097 career rushing yards alongside his 1,319 receiving yards make him the veteran with the most versatility in free agency.
If the Giants want a true veteran presence in the backfield who can serve a dual purpose as a mentor to Wilson, picking up McGahee could be the smartest move Coughlin and the Giants could make at this point.
Since 2010, however, Smith has not received more than 74 carries in a single season. This leaves him very fresh, as he has had only 598 career carries. Smith has been serviceable, averaging 3.9 yards per carry over his career.
Smith also has great hands—his best season as a receiver came in 2009 when he recorded 41 receptions for 415 yards and a score.
Also, Smith does not have ball security issues, fumbling just five times in five seasons.
With the limited work he has received recently, he could be a very valid candidate to come in and shoulder the bulk of the workload in New York.