David Wilson bides his time, waits for his turn
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PHILADELPHIA -- Giants fans have been clamoring for another glimpse of their team's first-round pick.
Giants coaches are pushing the young running back to absorb the offense and prove himself.
Giants teammates are providing reassuring words and stories of their own obstacles as first-year players, relaying tales of limited roles and mistakes that haunt.
Giants running backs are getting injured, being replaced, taking advantage of opportunities.
But David Wilson, the player all of those actions and sentiments and dynamics revolve around, remains calmly patient. He's not worried that entering Sunday night's game against the Eagles, he had only six carries for 8 yards in three games, or that he looks up from the bottom of the depth chart and sees a pile of players on top of him as though he's been stuffed by a goal-line stand.
It turns out he's already been in very similar situations. Wilson has needed to bide his time at nearly every stop of his playing career.
At Virginia Tech, he had to wait for Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to leave before getting his chance. Even in high school, he said, he had to wait in line to carry the football behind more established players.
"I'm used to having to be patient," he said. "It's not easy, but it's not a story I haven't read before."
Wilson entered the season as the team's No. 2 running back, a substantial part of the game plan against the Cowboys in the opener. Then he fumbled his second handoff and was removed from the offense in the first quarter.
"We all know how that went after that," said Wilson, who would not say (beyond "more than two") how many carries he had expected to get in that game.
Ahmad Bradshaw worked the rest of that game. Then Bradshaw was hurt in Week 2, and in the scramble to replace him, the Giants put Andre Brown on the field. Brown flourished, so there was no reason to remove him in favor of Wilson. "If I was a coach,'' Wilson said, "I probably would have done the same thing."
Now Bradshaw is back and Brown has carved out a role in the offense and Wilson is -- well, no one is quite sure where Wilson fits in. They just know that he probably will.
Tom Coughlin made a reference to the 2008 Giants running backs -- two 1,000-yard rushers in Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward and a young, unpolished Bradshaw. Earth, Wind and Fire, they called themselves. Perhaps the Giants will have a similar trifecta with Bradshaw, Brown and Wilson.
"There's a long, long way to go, and we're just happy that we've had an opportunity to develop some players," Coughlin said. "They will all have the chance to contribute."
Bradshaw learned that lesson himself, and he has spoken to Wilson about it. "Andre and David are great backs," said Bradshaw, who was mostly an afterthought as a rookie until he had a breakout game in December 2007 that put the Giants in the playoffs; he wound up the leading rusher in Super Bowl XLII. "They complement me well."
Of course, you don't draft a running back in the first round to have him complement someone. Eventually, Wilson will get back on the field and be given another opportunity to become a factor.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I'll get my chance at some point,'' he said. "But like I said, until that happens, I'm working hard and learning everything I can."
And applying some things he's learned at previous stops. Wilson may have had to be patient in high school and at Virginia Tech before he earned his place in the spotlight, but once there, he did pretty well.
"I left with the records [from] both of those places," Wilson said, "so it's paid off."
Notes & quotes: Antrel Rolle (knee) started at safety after being listed as questionable and missing a practice during the week . . . Prince Amukamara made his first NFL start at cornerback . . . WR Domenik Hixon started in place of Hakeem Nicks (foot, knee). Hixon was inactive last week because of a concussion . . . Former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins had his number retired by the team Sunday night.