David Wilson, Andre Brown to share Giants' rushing duties
When the Giants' unofficial depth chart was released late last week, there was one curious logjam. The document listed two starters at running back, David Wilson and Andre Brown. How could that be?
"We both plan to contribute," Wilson said of sharing the space. "It wouldn't make sense to name one guy. Depth charts are just political things anyway."
And in this case, the effort will be truly bipartisan. With Ahmad Bradshaw released during the offseason, the load will fall on two players who have had just one real season of action apiece.
Brown was used a lot (and effectively) early last year before breaking his leg and missing the final six weeks; Wilson was benched early but came on to contribute later in the year.
For the Giants to be successful in 2013, both will have to be on the field a lot more and produce at higher levels.
"Regardless of who is in there, we just have to all prepare mentally and physically in camp," Wilson said. "Going into those [preseason] games, show the coaches what we can do, what we've learned and how we've grown over the year. Then roles will be put in place more based on the offense and what we know what we have to do."
Wilson, a first-round pick with an ability to shrug off almost all anxiety, sounds ready for the challenge.
"I have a chance to be the starting tailback for the New York Giants and the Super Bowl is here this season," he said. "My main focus is going in wherever and whenever I can contribute, and whenever I'm on the field, I want to definitely have an effect on the game in a positive way so we can win as many games as possible and make that run for the Super Bowl."
Brown seems to have a bit more understanding that they are unproven. But that does not mean he's lacking confidence.
"I understand [angst from fans] and it's an opportunity," he said. "We're looking forward to it. We worked hard this offseason and we're excited about the opportunity we have and we're ready to go out there and just show what we've got. Show that we're effective backs and we can be efficient in this offense and they need productive backs in this offense. We're just ready, we're going to step up to the talent."
In reality, both players have issues they'll need to overcome before they can accomplish that.
Wilson needs to improve on his pass protection, which was a key point of emphasis this offseason and one of the main reasons he spent so little time in the backfield in 2012 despite being a first-round pick (he had only 71 carries, 43 of them in the last four games).
Brown needs to stay healthy. Despite being selected by the Giants in the 2009 draft, the 26-year-old has never played a full season. His only completely healthy campaign was 2011, which he spent on the Giants' practice squad.
But those are the horses the Giants have in their stable to start the season. They could always bring in a veteran to help out, but for now they are counting on their duo to be co-starters as well as co-finishers.
In the last four seasons, Bradshaw averaged 208 carries a year. Brown and Wilson have not come close to that kind of workload. Together, though, they may be able to halve the burden as well as the starter label.
" said that we were going to get a lot of carries, it's a lot different," Brown said. "We have to increase our conditioning and make sure that we're ready to go into the 15-, 20-play drives where he doesn't want to see us tapping out."
Having two carriers should help.