EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- On the New York Giants' unofficial depth chart, there is just one position that has two starters listed for one spot.
David Wilson and Andre Brown are both listed as the starting running back. Even though the depth chart is “unofficial,” it’s an indication of how both backs will play a significant role this season.
“We’re both going to contribute,” Wilson said before Sunday’s practice. “The depth chart is a political thing, something that they have to put out there so the fans and other teams will know. You know, like I said, it’s mostly for the media.”
No matter who starts, Wilson and Brown should see their share of carries and opportunities. Tom Coughlin has indicated that he will ride the hot hand and will go with a two-back system. If Coughlin has his way, the coach would have a third back to sprinkle in like he did when he had Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward.
Right now, the Giants have two backs who bring two different skill sets. Wilson, the expected starter, is the explosive and elusive speedster who can bust a touchdown run on any carry. And Brown is the bigger back who can run with a nice combination of power and speed. He also is expected to resume his role of being the goal-line back, which he played before he broke his leg late last season.
“David is a different style of back than we’ve ever really had here at the Giants over the years,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “A lot of speed and explosiveness. We got to see what’s the best way to use him. He might have a little different runs that help use his talent to his best ability.
“Both of them are different style runners,” Manning added. “And we’ll kind of understand that and put them in to do things that they are best at.”
The coaching staff trusts the veteran Brown. But the coaches also understand Wilson's home run ability and the different dimension he adds to the offense. Wilson has pretty much been getting the first carries in practice and his goal is to consistently improve on a different area of his game throughout camp. Wilson has to prove that he can consistently protect Manning on passing plays.
He’s eager to prove he is up to the task and hopes to show his biggest strength in a preseason game and avoid tackles for real instead of being tagged in non-tackling practices.
“I’m just looking forward to full speed contact,” Wilson said. “Out here in practice, you get tagged up and you think to yourself, ‘He wouldn’t have made that tackle.’ Even if we did it 10 times over again. You just have to live with it that you got tagged but in a game you can actually break a tackle and get yards after contact.”
And it's in those preseason games when Wilson hopes to show more of the electric flashes he displayed last year as a rookie. Wilson may not get many touches in the preseason, but he is expected to start the preseason opener on Saturday at Pittsburgh.
“I have the chance to be the starting tailback for the New York Giants,” Wilson said. “The Super Bowl is here this year so my main focus this season is going in, wherever and whenever I can contribute. And whenever I’m on the field, I definitely want to have an effect on the game in a positive way so we can win as many games as possible and make that run for the Super Bowl.”