Calls for rookie running back David Wilson to get more playing time are commonplace in the New York Giants' fan base. Well, running backs coach Jerald Ingram isn't shy about telling you exactly why the Giants' 2012 first-round pick isn't seeing more time on the field.
"Just because you’re a first-round draft pick doesn’t mean you’re ready to play or they all would be great,’’ Ingram said Monday. "It’s about winning games, it’s not a popularity contest. It’s time for you to grow up and be a man now and see what you can do with the whole ball of wax. Until [Wilson] proves that, it’s hard to stick him out there and feel comfortable."
"Yeah, he is explosive, but at what cost is he explosive?’’ Ingram asked. "Is he explosive at the cost of not being able to protect well, not being able to know his job well, not being a pro?’’
Wilson has played only 27 offensive snaps. He has 18 carries for 89 yards and one reception for three yards.
"He has a lot of positives about him, but learning and trusting is a whole other thing with a rookie. It's not a second-year player right now, he's a rookie," Ingram said. "The difference between college and the NFL is it's so complicated, the things that the defense is doing. The blitz packages, within the pass game, you have to be extremely knowledgeable. You either have that base behind you in college, or you didn't. If you didn't have that base in college, well, you have to learn it here. You're playing catch-up a lot."
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was also asked recently about Wilson's role being expanded. He pretty much echoed Ingram.
"He’s getting better, that’s all I can tell you," Gilbride said. "He’s got to be able to do all other things besides just running the ball. It’s not just running the ball when you’re a running back in the National Football League. It’s about catching passes, it’s about blocking, it’s about being able to protect the quarterback. All those things are taken into consideration when you determine whether a guy gets playing time or not."
There are constant comparisons between Wilson and Doug Martin, the phenomenally successful rookie for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taken one pick before the Giants selected Wilson in the April draft. While Wilson has been invisible, Martin has gained 862 yards, averaged 5.0 yards per carry, scored seven rushing touchdowns and caught 23 passes. Right now, it's no contest.
"That's [Martin] a guy who was in an offense that was taught to do a lot of things that the NFL teams are doing. David was on a team that was taught basically to give him the ball and be explosive and be a great runner. It's apples and oranges right now," Ingram said. "It'll come in time. We don't think David is afraid of anything, it's just him learning the offense, being comfortable, being physical, being tough. Those kinds of things."
Wilson's time might come, but it certainly doesn't sound like it will be soon.