The Giants may have looked impressive in certain aspects so far, but they still seem to have a big problem to fix — a that problem that is roughly 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds.
Even though they’ve drafted the explosive David Wilson in the first round, the Giants are still struggling to fill the void that Brandon Jacobs left behind when he defected to San Francisco. While the hulking Jacobs had his struggles at times in short yardage last season, the volatile bruiser gave the Giants their physical identity, especially in the playoffs when the Giants went from the league’s worst rushing attack to very good en route to the title.
Wilson is arguably the Giants’ most explosive running back during the Tom Coughlin era — particularly during minicamps. But he’s yet to dazzle during actual preseason games.
Coughlin said the bottom line is the running game needs to round into form – especially with Friday night’s game against the Bears in what will be an extended look of the first-teamers and regular contributors like Wilson.
“David’s had an opportunity or two [in the preseason] but not many, and he has looked pretty good running up in there on those opportunities,” Coughlin said. “But we haven’t had any real breakout runs to speak of. … It’s been pretty inconsistent, and some choppiness. Each of the guys seem to have a play or two that’s good and a play or two that’s bad.”
It’s a good sign, noted Coughlin, that Wilson has also showed tenacity in blitz pickup – something necessary for any young running back if he wants to get on the field. Pass protection was also an area in which Jacobs excelled.
“He’s done well in pass protection pickup,” Coughlin said of Wilson. “Even when there are times when he probably should’ve stayed up and not tried to cut the rusher. But he knows who he has, comes over with aggressiveness and understands that aspect of pass protection, which is a good thing.”
Starter Ahmad Bradshaw (hand) will be fine after suffering a bruised hand on Saturday, but Wilson did run with the starters for the second-consecutive day on Tuesday. The first-quarter injury that forced Bradshaw out of the game is a reminder of the lack of depth and experience behind him. Bradshaw has a long history of injuries, so Big Blue will need another running back to share the work load.
And with just two preseason games remaining and roughly two weeks until the opener against the Cowboys, it’s still not clear who is ready to step in and be Jacobs’s replacement. It figures to be a two-man race between Wilson and veteran D.J. Ware, but neither lit it up against the Jets. They combined for a mere 41 yards on 19 carries.
Wilson could get the first crack on Friday should Bradshaw sit out. Should he shine, that would give him a nice edge on Ware, especially since Wilson has mostly been running with the backups and facing the opposition’s second unit.
But the rookie is realistic and said even if he gets the opportunity to play with the starters, he knows he’d still have a long way to go in impressing the coaches and gaining their trust.
“Right now, not playing until after halftime, you’re not going against the starters, but I’m just trying to get better,” Wilson said. “I really don’t know what to expect until I’m fortunate enough to play against the first-team defense in the preseason games and see how I do. Either way, I always have to stay ready [because] you never know when you’re going to be called. Even when the coach tells you that you’re not going to play until after halftime. I still stand on the sideline with my helmet on. You never know if he’s going to want to throw you in.”
Whatever happens heading into the Bears game, Wilson just wants the coaches to know he’s ready to fill Jacobs’s large shoes.
Big Blue notes
» Linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring) and left tackle Will Beatty (back) continue to be sidelined due to injury.
» Defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee) continued to run on the sidelines during practice. Canty has been on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) since training camp began.
» Coughlin said “there’s a ray of hope” when discussing the status of defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and the blood clot that was thought to be season-ending. Now, Coughlin is saying there might be a chance Rogers plays this year: “He’s on his medication so there is a chance that he could come back and play. That’s what we’ve been told. We’re just going to hang in there as long as we can, see if they can determine where he is and how fast that he would be able to play.”
» Count defensive tackle Marvin Austin (back) in the same boat as Rogers. Austin’s medication could allow him to get back on the field sooner than expected as well: “Marvin seems to be getting better and I think there’s a question of the type of the medication that he’s on and whether or not he can practice under that circumstance. Hopefully, there will be more clarity about that situation.”
» Wideout Hakeem Nicks went through a painless practice on Tuesday: “I feel good. No setbacks,” Nicks said, adding he participated in about 75 percent of the practice, as opposed to the 50 percent on Monday.
» Backup offensive tackles James Brewer and Matt McCants switched sides on Tuesday, with Brewer getting time on the blind side (left tackle) and McCants getting his first taste of right tackle. McCants, who struggled some because he’s only played left tackle at Alabama-Birmingham, said he should feel more comfortable with it in a practice or two.
» Tight end Martellus Bennett was in rare form Tuesday. The tight end who came into minicamp at 291 pounds said he’s now down to 269 pounds. Bennett, who’s dubbed himself everything from Gandhi, to Kim Kardashian, to Adonis, to a Black Unicorn bellowed at reporters: “Y’all wrote about 291, so write about 269.”
» Those that didn’t practice: tight end Travis Beckum (knee, PUP), defensive tackles Chris Canty (knee, PUP) and Marvin Austin (back), cornerbacks Michael Coe (hamstring), Brandon Bing (hamstring) and Jayron Hosley (toe), left tackle Will Beatty (back), linebacker Michael Boley and defensive end Adrian Tracy (hamstring).
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for more news throughout the week.