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ATL Film Room: The explosive David Wilson


New York Giants running back David Wilson was expected to contribute out of the gate this season, but that didn't happen.

The rookie out of Virginia Tech slipped into coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse early because he couldn't hold onto the football. His costly fumble in a season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys went viral after Wilson appeared to shed tears on the sideline.

We can't fault the man for showing a little emotion, but Coughlin was convinced Wilson wasn't ready for prime time. The youngster vanished from the Giants backfield, carrying the ball only eight times through the first five weeks of the season.

With Ahmad Bradshaw hurting in Sunday's 52-27 win over the New Orleans Saints, Coughlin had no choice but to give Wilson a full opportunity. This time around, the rookie didn't disappoint, finishing the game with a franchise-record 327 all-purpose yards. Let's take a look at what went down.

Running around the Saints

Last year's postseason run by the Giants was ignited by the emergence of Victor Cruz. It's a frightening proposition for the NFC to watch as Big Blue unearths another dangerous playmaker in December.

The Giants are known for bringing their runners along slowly. The knock on Wilson early was ball security and pass protection. Young backs often struggle in their blocking assignments. We saw the same in Denver from the fleet-footed Ronnie Hillman, who saw his snaps limited because he couldn't do his job protecting the quarterback.

It's no coincidence we're talking about a pair of Mannings here.

Where Wilson excels is in hitting the hole. His decision-making could have been better on a handful of carries against the Saints, but not on this 52-yard dart around left end. Faster than light.

Running through the Saints

Speed backs often struggle in the NFL.

Wilson showed bursts of power against the Saints, and had nice moments in pass protection, but he'll never be a power back. Wilson's blazing moves are his greatest gift.

Wilson does show an ability to pull defenders with him -- exampled by his 6-yard touchdown run against the Saints -- but it's his quickness that leads to plays like this 21-yard rip through the defense. Wilson averaged a sensational 7.7 yards per carry on Sunday.

Watching the tape of this game -- and monitoring the flow of Wilson's 13 carries -- he obviously benefited from a larger workload. Coughlin talked this season about giving Wilson specific plays in specific situations, but the training wheels are off.

Leaving the Saints in the rear-view mirror

Wilson the runner is a work in progress. Wilson the return man is a masterpiece. His tempo-changing 93-yard kick return for the score kept New York afloat early against the Saints. Seconds after New Orleans defensive back Elbert Mack took an Eli Manning interception 73 yards to the house, Wilson returned the favor.

This wasn't an aberration. Wilson averaged 56.8 yards on four returns in Week 14, and he's currently ranked by Football Outsiders as the top kick return man in football.

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck didn't like the celebratory backflip on the tail-end of his TD run, but we might see it again.

Wilson has come a long way. Far from the chill of Coughlin's doghouse, he's earned his coach's respect. It's taken months, but the wait is over.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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