Wilson's fumble re-emphasizes Bradshaw's role

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If history is to be trusted, it's only a matter of time before Giants rookie running back David Wilson becomes an elite back and then retires in his prime to pursue a career in tele-journalism while throwing everyone who helped make him into a better player under the bus on his way out the door.

After all, Wilson did a great Tiki Barber impression in his first NFL game Wednesday, losing a fumble and entering coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse way too early.

Coughlin famously helped Barber shake his fumble-itis -- the running back fumbled 33 times in 106 games prior to Coughlin becoming coach of the Giants, and nine times in 48 games after. As a result, Barber rushed for 1,680 yards per season in his three years with Coughlin at the helm and became one of 26 players to rush for more that 10,000 yards in his career.

The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Wilson is built similarly to Barber and he's also plagued by the same fumbling issue, something that threatens to destroy his fantasy value before he even gets his feet wet in the NFL.

Wilson fumbled in the first quarter Wednesday in the Giants' season opener against Dallas and didn't play another offensive snap in the game -- he finished with two carries for four yards. Wilson fumbled seven times and lost four last season at Virginia Tech, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

The rookie's ball security problems mean Ahmad Bradshaw will hold onto his spot as the lead running back for the foreseeable future. Bradshaw carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards, scored a touchdown and caught two passes for 15 yards Wednesday. With Brandon Jacobs gone, the tough-as-nails Bradshaw likely will see his rushing touchdown total climb into double digits for the first time in his career.

Still, Bradshaw is injury prone and he's had the propensity for getting nicked up even when he hasn't suffered a major injury, so I expect Wilson to factor into the Giants' running back rotation sooner rather than later. The question is, will he get enough touches to serve as a reliable RB2, or will he get just enough to diminish Bradshaw's value and make neither a useful option?

I don't think the latter is likely. If Bradshaw is healthy, he should get enough touches, especially in the red zone, to make him a viable fantasy option. The Giants aren't a team ready to sacrifice victories to develop young talent; Coughlin showed that Wednesday.

While Wilson will get his share of touches to keep Bradshaw fresh, I think the most we can expect is that the rookie carves out a niche as a 10-touch-a-game player this season as long as Bradshaw is active. With Wilson's speed and big- play ability, that may result in several 100-yard games, but it will be nearly impossible to predict when those games will come.

I'm not saying Wilson's fumble Wednesday was a death knell for the rookie, but it emphasized how unwise it would be for the defending Super Bowl champions to cast aside the veteran Bradshaw for a first-year player with ball-control issues.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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