EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants no longer have the time to groom rookie running back David Wilson.
The first-round draft pick is going to have to start contributing as Ahmad Bradshaw's backup in the final five games of the regular season, starting Monday against the Washington Redskins.
Wilson was thrown into the role Sunday, when Andre Brown broke his left leg in the fourth quarter of New York's 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.
On most teams, the backup spot might mean a couple of carries a game.
For the Giants (7-4), though, the role is different because of Bradshaw's foot problems. He has dealt with them for years, usually playing in pain. One bad step, and Wilson becomes the No. 1 back ... in the middle of a playoff race.
"Andre played a big role in our offense, so with his absence somebody's going to have to definitely step up on the offensive side of the ball," Wilson said. "And, you know, the coaches told me that I'm the next guy, so I've been preparing and hopefully I'll be ready when they call my number."
When they took Wilson with the final pick of the first round, the Giants believed that the Virginia Tech product would add a breakaway dimension to the run game. He had the speed to go run inside and outside, and during preseason, he displayed it at times.
Wilson, however, lost a fumble in Dallas territory in the season opener and his role in the offense disappeared. Brown snapped it up and received 73 carries, in which he compiled 385 yards, before the injury.
Through 11 games, Wilson has had 24 carries for 102 yards, with 40 coming on his only touchdown of the season. His biggest contribution has been on kickoff returns, where he has averaged 25.3 yards on 40 attempts. He was close to breaking a few early in the season but he hasn't been as dangerous lately.
Brown's injury has changed everything, which is something that Bradshaw knows about. In his rookie season of 2007, Bradshaw was the Giants' No. 3 running back behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. He received his chance when Ward broke his leg late that season. Bradshaw relayed that story to Wilson earlier this season, reminding him to just keep working.
"I think he can be (ready)," Bradshaw said. "Once we get him going and get him learning a little more and different things in different areas, I think he'll be a great asset to our offense. "
Wilson has been working with second-year fullback Henry Hynoski after practice for the past couple of weeks. The two head to a classroom and spend an hour with Hynoski quizzing the rookie on blitz pickups and assignments.