Watch David Wilson catch punts from a machine and dart upfield. Or, check the video from Wednesday of him taking a handoff and scooting off tackle. Then, watch him stand at a podium, smile, joke, talk about how he has never felt any pain in his surgically-repaired neck and how badly he wants to be out on the field.
Take in all of that -- along with the infectious smile and the obvious bewilderment at how and why his NFL future remains in limbo -- and Wilson is a hard guy not to root for. That and the fact that the 2012 first-round pick possesses speed and breakaway ability none of the other players among the Giants' plethora of running backs can match.
Wilson had spinal fusion surgery in January to repair a herniated disc in his neck. While he is doing some work during the Giants' non-contact OTAs he has not been cleared for contact. On Thursday, a practice media was able to witness, Wilson did not participate in any of the 'live' offense vs. defense segments of practice.
"I never had any pain, no pain at all," Wilson said. "We're just being careful because I've came so far, I feel the same since before the surgery, but we've come so far and the coaches don't want me to risk it by bumping into somebody, running into something and falling down when I'm this close to my next appointment."
That next appointment with a doctor will be June 4. Wilson had previously said the only thing keeping him from being cleared was a picture -- meaning, of course, what the MRI of his neck showed. Will he get the picture he needs to fully resume his NFL career when he visits the doctor next Wednesday?
"I'm just praying," Wilson said on Thursday. "I'm just looking forward to getting out on the field so hopefully they get the pictures they're looking for."
The Giants approached the running back position this offseason as though anything they get from Wilson will be a bonus. They added free agent Rashad Jennings, re-signed Peyton Hillis and drafted Andre Williams. Seeing one Giants' OTA, though, is enough to give you the idea that there is a role for Wilson in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's scheme if he is healthy enough to grab it. The screens and quick, short passes into space that were prevalent on Thursday are perfect for Wilson. Even in a limited role Wilson could be a difference-maker for the Giants. If he can get on the field.
So, what happens if the pictures don't give Wilson the green light he desperately wants.
"I'll probably start kicking field goals," he joked before once again returning to the idea that he has never felt pain from the herniated disc.
"I have no pain and there's nothing I can do to make it better. But I want to express that I've never had any pain. I went home to my family and they were like they were shocked to see me. On Memorial Day weekend like, ‘Oh my God, is your neck ... how is your neck?' I never had any pain. I've been walking on my own, talking on my own, doing everything normal, running, exercising like regular. I want to express to everybody that I have never had any pain at all, zero percent. I've been healthy and doing well."
Wilson said his injury is "taken seriously," but it is obvious that he still struggles to understand it.
"I thought it would be something that would just pass over but then they said I had to have the surgery, it was best to have the surgery," Wilson said. "I understood that and I did my research and weighed the pros and cons and felt that it was the best decision."
Now, he is just praying that a picture on June 4 will allow him to do what he is itching to do. Play football.