Giants rookie David Wilson is New York's 'new celebrity in town'
By Kimberly Jones
Updated: Dec. 14, 2012 at 01:53 p.m.
Rookie RB David Wilson set an N.Y. Giants record last Sunday with 327 all-purpose yards, including 100 rushing.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Twelve-point-four seconds.
In 12.4 seconds -- the time it took to return a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown last Sunday -- David Wilson transformed a New York Giants rookie season of baby steps into a screaming, back-flipping headline.
"There's a new celebrity in town," veteran guard Chris Snee said as he strode past the mid-week media crowd at Wilson's locker.
Timing, as they say, is everything.
The Giants need Wilson now more than ever. Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw has a sprained knee to go with a perpetually sore foot and will be sidelined against the Atlanta Falcons this week, and perhaps longer. Backup Andre Brown is on injured reserve. Veterans Kregg Lumpkin and Ryan Torain were signed two weeks ago.
Enter Wilson, the Giants' first-round draft pick who performed a backflip in the end zone after every one of his three scores Sunday. (The Giants would strongly like him to end that practice; they can't risk a freak injury on a freakishly athletic celebration.) And he wowed teammates all spring and summer with his speed and explosiveness, but after he fumbled in the first game of the season, he didn't see another offensive snap that night and spent subsequent weeks working his way out of Tom Coughlin's doghouse.
"It was just about gaining the coaches' trust, period," Wilson said.
A team-record 327 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against the Saints will earn trust plenty of trust. He had 227 return yards and an even 100 on 13 carries -- the first time he had more than seven carries in a game.
"He did a terrific job for us," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. "We're ecstatic."
It all started with the 97-yard kickoff return. The closest anyone came to touching him was an official at midfield, who stood like a statue as the Wilson wind tunnel blew by. Wilson leads the NFC with 1,321 kickoff return yards and has been close several times, but getting to the end zone, he said, felt "like knocking down a brick wall, and I'm pretty sure the 10 guys that were on the (kickoff return team) with me felt the same way."
His teammates had this collective reaction: Finally.
"He's been close to taking one to the house all season," said fellow rookie Jayron Hosley. "It was about time."
Said Justin Tuck: "I don't know what took him so long."
Wilson's teammates tell him they're looking for impact outings from him every week. Wilson laughs but does not lack confidence. "The whole time, I've been preparing and working hard so when my number is called I'll be ready," he said. "That happened last game and I think I handled it pretty well."
Antrel Rolle describes Wilson's talents -- he says his fastest 40 time is 4.28 and he's sturdy enough to truck a linebacker -- as unique and special.
"The skills he brings to this game are extraordinary," Rolle said. But there is a secondary message: "Even though he may be a rookie, this is what we expect. He can get it done."
And that, for the Giants, is now paramount.
Bradshaw, a willing tutor, provided Wilson with particularly savvy advice. "Think during the week," Bradshaw told him. "When you're out there on gameday, just play."
With that theme, the Giants appear to be onto something.
Before last week's game, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn did not give Wilson a weekly assignment sheet. Instead, Quinn delivered these three words, "Just run fast."