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32 Questions in 32 Days: New York Giants

Giants RB David Wilson
Giants RB David Wilson

October 21, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back David Wilson (22) runs back a kickoff during the first quarter of an NFL game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As we count down to the NFL season, Sports Jerks will be bringing you 32 questions in 32 days. Each day, we’ll feature one of the most important questions for a different NFL team heading into the opening weekend of the league.

Today’s feature team and question?

The New York Giants – Can the Giants replace Ahmad Bradshaw?

Ahmad Bradshaw has been a mainstay in the Giants’ backfield since 2007. His breakout year came in 2010 when he posted personal bests in attempts, yards, and first downs. Last season, Bradshaw was still chugging along. The back is a step behind the elite rushers in the NFL, but his 1,015 yards and 4.6 yards per carry were hardly an embarrassment in 2012. Backups Andre Brown and David Wilson saw significant time, but with 221 carries, Bradshaw was again the premier back for New York.

With Wilson and Brown in the fold, though, Bradshaw was expendable. He was subsequently released from the Giants after last year and has since signed with the Indianapolis Colts leaving a hole in New York’s backfield. So will the franchise be able to replace his production?

In a word, yes. The Giants will turn to Wilson and Brown to replace the veteran and the pair should be up for the challenge.

Wilson, a rookie last season, was extremely productive in the limited amount of time he played. He was a first-round selection for the Giants in last year’s NFL Draft and they put him to work immediately. Wilson’s 71 carries were only about 1/3 of what Bradshaw got but he made the most of them. He had a total of 358 yards rushing for 5.0 yards per attempt. Despite the fairly light workload, Wilson also added nearly as many touchdowns as Bradshaw. His five scores nearly matched Bradshaw’s six.

Brown also returns and will push Wilson for carries if not grab the job outright. A fourth-round draft pick in 2009, Brown was also productive in a backup role behind Bradshaw last season. His 5.3 yards per carry led the trio last season and Brown’s 385 rushing yards were second on the team. Most impressive was that Brown led the team with eight rushing touchdowns and the running back also didn’t fumble a single time in 2012.

An additional benefit of the pair is their big play ability. As the starter and a bigger back, Bradshaw produced only four runs that were more than 20 yards on the entire season. In a more limited role, Wilson and Brown had eight such carries. Getting them onto the field more should, in theory, result in several more big gains.

A deciding factor in determining who may secure more carries will also depend on the backs’ blocking ability. The running backs may be adequate in 2013, but the team’s bread and butter will be the passing attack behind star Eli Manning. Head coach Tom Coughlin recently said Wilson has been a little up and down in that area and that’s something to watch in the race to start.

There’s no telling what the two will do with an increased workload, but it’s reasonable to expect similar production to what the unit had in 2012 if they stay healthy. Look for the duo to split carries to start, but even if one pulls away a little, the Giants’ backfield looks to be in good hands with two solid younger options.

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