Yet there they were, lined up in the same backfield during Thursday's OTA -- for one play, near the end of practice. Brown was the fullback, in front of Wilson, in an I-formation. Brown ended up motioning wide before the ball was snapped, and Wilson received the handoff.
Both players said the coaches gave them the play on the fly -- they'd never practiced it before. "I was just a decoy," Brown said, chuckling.
He may have been a decoy on that play, but both Brown and Wilson figure to be key figures in the Giants' 2013 fortune. With the jettisoning of veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw, both should receive an increased workload. Brown carried the ball 73 times for 385 yards last season before suffering a season-ending leg injury in Week 12.
"I feel great," Brown said Thursday. "Legs feel 100 percent. I’m running, jumping around, doing cartwheels and everything. I’m 100 percent in every drill."
Wilson carried the ball 71 times for 358 yards as a rookie.
"I’m a lot less nervous, and more comfortable with the offense," Wilson said, comparing this year to last year. "Going out there now, I can just play football, and run the play that’s called, and not really have to stress as much."
But both players are growing off the field, too. Brown is just 26 years old -- yet that makes him the oldest running back on the roster, along with backup Ryan Torain.
"The first couple years we had Brandon [Jacobs], we had Ahmad [Bradshaw] -- those guys were more of the vocal leaders in the [running backs] room," Brown said. "I’d just sit back and watch and listen. But now it’s like OK, they showed me the way, and now I’ve gotta step up and be more talkative in the room.
"I'm doing it well," Brown added. "I hope they say I’m doing it well."
Brown also said that Wilson has been a good influence on him.
"We’re having fun right now," Brown said. "[Wilson], he’s such a high-energy guy. You can’t help but have it rub off on you. You just run and jog and sprint and triple-jump and slip and do all that stuff that he’s doing. He’s a high-motor guy."
As for Wilson, he said his relationship with Brown is good, too -- despite the fact they may be competing for playing time this season.
"We get along, and we're both try to make each other better," Wilson said. "I think that’s what’s gonna happen throughout the season. Both of us, it’s a competitive nature, but at the same time we understand we have to work together."
It's way too early to know how the coaching staff will divvy up the carries between Wilson and Brown in the fall. But one thing is clear -- Wilson certainly seems to have matured since his rookie year, when he famously declared himself a future Hall of Famer just one month into his NFL career.
When he was asked Thursday if he's concerned about how many carries he will get in 2013 compared to Brown, this was Wilson's response:
"I ain't worried about the carries, I’m not worried about yards, or who’s got the most touchdowns. I’m just worried about both of us working together and being effective for the team and having a positive running game."
Veteran cornerback Aaron Ross, whose locker is next to Wilson's, overheard this, and praised Wilson for it afterwards.
Whether Wilson truly meant it or not, it was indeed the right answer.