Giants’ backfield preps for life without Bradshaw
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With Eli Manning running the show and Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the outside, the New York Giants’ passing game is potent.
Without Ahmad Bradshaw, the running game has become a big question mark.
The Giants took a major gamble after last season, releasing the injury-plagued Bradshaw and handing the halfback job to David Wilson and Andre Brown.
New York’s 2012 first-round draft pick, Wilson showed a burst of speed out of the backfield last season. He gained 358 yards on 71 carries and scored four touchdowns. Brown, a journeyman, had his best season, rushing for 385 yards. He scored eight touchdowns on 73 carries before breaking his right leg in late November.
“Obviously, Andre has been here a number of years and knows the system well and played well last year before he got injured,” Manning said Monday before practice. “David is a different style of back than we’ve ever really had here at the Giants over the years. A lot of speed and explosiveness. We’ve got to see what’s the best way to use him.
“It will be interesting to see how things change up a little bit.”
Wilson, who played at Virginia Tech, is exciting. He is the kind of back who can get through a hole and score for a touchdown in seconds.
Bradshaw, who led the team in rushing the past three seasons, was more of a power back. He gained 1,015 yards last season with his longest run being 37 yards.
Brown is more in the Bradshaw mold, and has shown tremendous effectiveness near the goal line.
It would not be surprising for the Giants to play both. In recent years, the team has shared the running back responsibility with a couple of backs.
For now, Wilson is sharing carries with Brown in training camp but it would seem that he is destined to be the starter.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m stepping in, trying to do all of the right things that I need to do to help this team to win,” Wilson said. “I know what I have to do this training camp in order to get the maximum playing time. We’re working together. We bring two different things and a lot of the same things. When we’re out there on the field, we’re just trying to make each other better, so when we go out there on game day, the defense doesn’t have to worry about just one of us.”
Wilson, however, needs to prove himself to Tom Coughlin. The veteran coach demands that his running backs protect the ball and pick up blitzes.
Wilson fumbled in his first game against Dallas last season and had trouble blocking for Manning, as well.
With a year under his belt, Wilson believes he will improve. He has the cockiness to think he can gain 1,000 yards.
“We’ll see. We’ve got 16 games,” he said. “I think a 1,000 yards is definitely the mark for every running back in the league. I set high goals for myself, not something that is easy to reach.”
Fully recovered from his broken leg, Brown is optimistic about the run game, which averaged 116.4 yards last season.
“The sky is the limit. It all starts with our attention to detail and our willingness to be a proven entity in this league,” Brown said. “As far as we work, hard work pays off. As long as we continue out here with a humble mindset and go out there and be a spark to this team, the sky is the limit. You’re only going to get out what you put into it and I feel like we’ve put a lot of work, extra film study, reading defenses, helping each other out.
“We know what we’re capable of.”
So does All-Pro guard Chris Snee.
“We made tremendous strides since 2011 into last year,” he said, “and if we continue to do that we’ll get back into being a top 10, top five rushing team.”
NOTES: The defense picked off five passes in practice. Safety Tyler Sash had one, and provided momentary comic relief in turning to run the wrong way after his catch. ... Rookie QB Ryan Nassib and veteran Curtis Painter threw two picks apiece, and David Carr had the other. ... LB Jacquian Williams had two tipped passes. ... Second-year receiver Rueben Randle had an excellent afternoon, getting more reps with the first team because Hakeem Nicks was again limited by a groin injury ... OL coach Pat Flaherty said David Diehl is his right tackle with first-round pick Justin Pugh working with the second team. ... Giants GM Jerry Reese made a feeble attempt to catch an overthrown pass by Carr on the sideline. He showed little vertical prowess.