Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden (96) strips the ball...

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden (96) strips the ball from David Wilson, causing a fumble during the second half. (Sept. 8, 2013) Credit: AP

Tom Coughlin wouldn't say whether David Wilson will be the starting running back next week after his two-fumble performance that prompted his benching for most of the second half.

"I'm not going to answer that question now," he said after the Giants' 36-31 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night.

But although he doesn't have many choices, Coughlin made it clear that fumbles will not be tolerated.

"He's a very talented young man, but as I said, you just can't do that," Coughlin said. "Every time they touch you, you're going to turn the ball over?"

Wilson's teammates expressed more confidence in him than his coach did.

"I'm not worried about him," Victor Cruz said. "This team is going to rally around him, me specifically, just to keep his mind on track because we're going to need him to win ballgames. We're going to need him to be that big-play running back that we know he can be. We just have to rally behind him right now."

Hakeem Nicks was one of the veterans who talked to Wilson as he came off the field after his first fumble.

"I was just telling him to keep his head up, he's been down that road before," Nicks said. "Be ready to come back out and compete. But I was letting him know at the same time that we can't have that right now. We're on a big stage right now. With our goals for this season, we have to eliminate the turnovers."

It wasn't only offensive players who tried to offer guidance.

"I talked to him," defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "He's a young guy that has so many high hopes for himself and we have the same high hopes for us and for him."

"I talked to him a little bit and I said, 'Man, it happens,' " Terrell Thomas said. "This is how you define yourself. This is about who you are as a person. Are you going to tuck your tail in or are you going to stand up like a man and say, 'I have to get better protecting the ball' and work at it in practice and come back and be the first-rounder we know you can be?"

Tuck went so far as to say that Wilson's fumbles could turn out to be "a good thing if he looks at it the right way."

"And I think he will," Tuck said. "Sometimes you need stuff like this to propel you forward. This is something he can use to benefit him . . . Adversity can either hurt you and you can hide behind that eight-ball or you can come out and say, 'This is something I need to work on.' I think he's one of those guys that is going to take it the positive way."

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