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Will running back David Wilson be physically ready to absorb hits like these after coming off neck surgery?
At the end of last season, Jerry Reese did something rare.
He publicly admitted during his year-end press conference that the Giants were going to seek help at a specific position: running back.
Certainly, it didn’t take a high-level team official to confirm the obvious.
David Wilson’s season-ending neck injury was likely going to result in him having surgery and an uncertain recovery period, even though both Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin have expressed optimism every time they’ve been asked about Wilson returning at some point in 2014.
In the meantime, they addressed the position this offseason by signing Rashad Jennings from Oakland and re-signing Peyton Hillis, who performed well for them in limited action last year.
As of right now, those two would presumably be No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
They let Andre Brown walk—he’s now with the Texans. They also have Michael Cox, who barely saw the field on offense last season, getting ready to compete for the third running back spot.
So on paper, Jennings, Hillis, Cox and, at some point, Wilson would give the Giants all they need at the running back spot, right?
Not so fast.
While Reese and Coughlin have expressed optimism regarding Wilson’s return, both have also continued to add disclaimers that suggest they're not going to rush Wilson back onto the field.
Those disclaimers are the reason why I would not be surprised if Wilson opens training camp on the physically unable to perform list despite reports of him making progress or self-posted videos of him doing backflips on a concrete walkway.
As for Hillis, a look at his injury history is a good reminder that the shelf life of an NFL running back is precarious, especially once a player has been exposed to a concussion.
Cox? The number of snaps he received on offense last season—38, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required)—and the fact that he didn’t get on the field more often once the injuries started eating away at the depth in front of him could suggest that he had his share of issues grasping the playbook.
That’s why I don't think the Giants are finished adding to the running back spot and why they will look to draft a young prospect perhaps on Day 3.
I continue to like Wisconsin’s James C. White, whom NFL Draft Scout declared to be “the Badgers’ best all-around back” in the fifth round.
White, 5’9”, 204 pounds, might not have ideal size for the position at this level, but since he showed a willingness to be a competitive pass-blocker at the college level, he might not be averse to playing that key role in the NFL.