The New York Giants are searching for a spark. Through four winless weeks of football, the Giants have been on a hunt for an elusive kick-start, upon which New York could possibly build toward victory.
If it's a jolt the team is searching for, look no further than the player commonly described as the Giants' most electrifying: second-year running back David Wilson.
After Wilson fumbled twice in the season opener, what had the potential to be a breakout season for the 22-year-old back was beginning to look more like a breakdown season. By cutting veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason, the Giants put nearly all of their eggs in Wilson's less-than-sturdy basket.
After the preseason finale—when backfield mate Andre Brown broke a leg—the team had nowhere else to turn.
Wilson was the man for the plan...until he put a pair of balls on the ground in Week 1.
Perhaps it was the pressure. Maybe it was just first-game jitters. Of course, it could have simply been a lapse in preparation or execution. Whatever it was, the result has been a measly 38 carries through four games, as Wilson's sprint to NFL stardom has come to a screeching halt.
For both his sake and the sake of his 0-4 team, Wilson could turn things around against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5.
Was it a mere coincidence that Wilson fumbled in back-to-back season openers, both versus the Dallas Cowboys? Probably, but the similarity is uncanny. History could repeat itself yet again this Sunday if Wilson finds daylight against an Eagles team that ranks dead last in terms of yards allowed.
Look at what Wilson did in Week 5 last season.
The Giants were facing the Cleveland Browns, and, with Brown concussed, Bradshaw was the workhorse, racking up 200 yards on 30 carries. Leading the Browns by 14 points with about six minutes to play, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin finally gave the rookie a chance.
In the four weeks leading up to this moment, Wilson had accumulated just eight yards on six carries.
That's when he busted out a 40-yard game-clinching touchdown, cruising to the end zone untouched for the first score of his young career. Can Wilson get over the hump in the fifth week of the season yet again?
He'll need to do more than score on one long run—that's for certain. Da'Rel Scott, the team's second-leading rusher and go-to back on third downs, was waived on Tuesday to make room for offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds.
The Giants still have 31-year-old Brandon Jacobs and rookie Michael Cox on the running back depth chart, but one must expect Wilson's heavily regulated workload to skyrocket with Scott's recent departure.
Once again, history is comforting.
Wilson's biggest role, in terms of offensive touches, was in Week 17 of last season, against—you guessed it—the Philadelphia Eagles. He carried the ball a career-high 15 times for 75 yards, while also adding a 15-yard touchdown catch out of the backfield in a 42-7 rout of New York's division rival.
That was the last time these two teams met. The time before that—in Week 4 of the 2012 season—Wilson returned six kicks for 217 yards, an average of 36.2 yards per return. If he can put it all together on Sunday, the Virginia Tech product could deliver another outstanding performance like the one he had against the New Orleans Saints last year, when he set a team record with 327 all-purpose yards.
Hey, no pressure, Dave, but the Giants might be counting on you to be the whole team this week (please, don't fumble). Can you blame them, though? Before you, the Giants hadn't selected a running back in the first round since 2000, when they picked Ron Dayne 11th overall. Needless to say, they're expecting big things from you.
New York had 11 players on Thursday's (10/3) injury report, and eight of them did not practice. David Diehl's return—and 2013 debut—means the Giants will field their fourth different offensive line configuration in five weeks.
The team is hurting, but a healthy, youthful Wilson has the potential to uplift this team from its dismal start on his own. It's a lot to ask of a second-year player, but, yet again, the Giants have no place left to turn.
Just don't be another Dayne.
Kevin is a Featured Columnist and Game-day Correspondent for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!