David Wilson may be a rookie, but it feels like he’s already experienced two different seasons.
After being left in head coach Tom Coughlin’s doghouse for most of the season following an opening-game fuble, he is now sitting on top of the world as one of the league’s most feared kick returners and a burgeoning threat out of the backfield.
Now that the Giants — and their demanding fans — have seen what Wilson is capable of, there’s undoubtedly more pressure for an encore performance Sunday in Atlanta.
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“I didn’t have the greatest start for a rookie, and rookies have little room for error,” Wilson said. “At that point I was put in a position where I had to gain the coaches’ trust again. I stuck with it and kept working, and working at meetings, and working on the field, and trying to regain the trust. I knew eventually my opportunity would come again. I did those things so I would be prepared when the opportunity did approach.”
Wideout Victor Cruz said the timing couldn’t be better for Wilson’s ascension, especially with the season-ending injury to Andre Brown, and now Ahmad Bradshaw’s knee malady.
“He’s capable of making some huge plays, especially when we need them the most, like his kickoffs [on Sunday],” Cruz said. “We would watch him in practice just do amazing things, whether it be breaking plays, or making some cuts that we only see guys that are Hall of Famers make.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck gave his perspective as a defensive player that’s had to deal with Wilson every day in practice whenever the slippery back works with the scout team.
“He’s probably the best athlete on this team. You see it when he scores a touchdown. He does cartwheels and backflips and I’ve been telling him to stop doing that, but he does it with ease,” said Tuck. “So whenever you put a threat like that out there, it’s only a matter of time [for a big play]. You saw flashes of it early in the year and he kind of got some lulls. But he’s a huge shot in the arm, not only to our offense, but our defense, because he can energize us all. His big plays have energized us on the sidelines. … But now it’s on tape, so we’re going to expect that from him every game.”
Big Blue notes
»Wilson returned four kickoffs for 227 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown and rushed for 100 yards and two scores, the second a 52-yarder. His 327 all-purpose yards established a team record. The former mark of 303 was set by wideout Domenik Hixon at New Orleans on Oct. 18, 2009. Hixon’s breakdown was 230 yards on kickoff returns, 51 on punt returns and 22 on receptions. Wilson averaged 56.8 yards per return, the highest total ever by a Giant with at least three returns in a game. The previous record of 51.8 yards was set by Joe Scott on four returns vs. the Rams on Nov. 14, 1948.
» Bradshaw (knee), cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and safety Kenny Phillips (knee) were amongst the key players to not practice on Wednesday. Coughlin said he thinks Amukamara will be able to practice by week’s end, although he noted hamstrings “can be tricky.” Coughlin, however, was noncommittal on Bradshaw and Phillips. The coach did acknowledge Bradshaw has sat out practice all week in the past, save for a walkthrough, only to play on Sundays, so he stopped predicting what Bradshaw would be able to do on game days long ago.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.