David Wilson last week set some lofty personal goals for his rookie season, but he discovered in his first regular season game that they will be impossible to reach if he doesn't hold onto the football.
The Giants' first-round draft choice lost a fumble on just his second rushing attempt last night in the season-opening 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. It would be his last carry of the night. The only touches he had the rest of the night were two kickoff returns.
"Ball security is a huge issue, and ball security was an issue when he first came here," coach Tom Coughlin said. "And we've been trying hard to make sure it's not an issue. We have a little work to do."
Coughlin said Wilson hasn't fumbled in practice, but as he was quick to note, the defenders are not trying to tackle him there. The coach said how Wilson carries the ball is not an issue.
"They're coming for the ball, whether it's loosey goosey or high and tight or whatever, you've got to hang on to the ball," Coughlin said. "You've got to be aware of where the enemy is as he closes in on you, and if it's a bunch of folks, you have to get two hands on the ball, not just one. It came out, and quite frankly, that was a drive that some decent things were happening (the Giants had moved from their own 13-yard line to the Dallas 29)."
After the fumble, Ahmad Bradshaw took every handoff. Coughlin did not specifically say he lost trust in Wilson.
"It's more, let the veteran play, and let's hope we don't have another occasion to shoot ourselves in the foot," Coughlin said.
Largely because of the fumble, Wilson had a quiet debut. He gained just two yards on four rushes and returned three kickoffs for 71 yards, including a 32-yarder.
But on the ninth play of the Giants' second possession, a second down from the Dallas 28-yard line, linebacker Sean Lee stripped Wilson of the ball, which was recovered by safety Barry Church. Just like that, the Giants' first scoring chance of the season vanished.
"I saw him coming," Wilson said. "It was just a good shot on the ball and I saw it on film and it wasn't more like the ball was loose. It was just a good shot on the ball.
"You've just got to hold the ball high and tight and keep it up and it happens to best of them and it's something I know that can't happen. You're disappointed in yourself when it happens, but it happens to the best of them."
Wilson didn't have to be told the fumble was the reason he didn't play again on offense.
"After you don't get back on the field because of that, you kind of put one and two together," he said. "It's not hard to understand that, but it happens in football and turnovers are a part of football, but it's definitely not something that you want to have your name beside."
Wilson knows what he must do to return to the field when the Giants next play on Sept. 16 vs. Tampa Bay.
"The coaches said just have a good week of practice and fight back," he said. "I don't think they totally gave up on me. It was just in that moment and the opening game and me having a critical moment like that at the beginning, they didn't want me in there. It showed me how important it was to hold on to the ball and that will probably explain why they didn't give me offensive plays."
Wilson hopes he gets a chance to secure the ball when the Giants host the Buccaneers in 10 days.
*While this year's top draft choice deals with his fumbling issues, last year's top selection is rehabbing an injury. Prince Amukamara missed the Dallas game with a high ankle sprain sustained in a preseason game against Chicago on Aug. 24. He hopes to play vs. Tampa Bay.
"That's my target," he said. "I don't know if that's the trainers' thoughts."
Amukamara said he has improved and can now hop on the leg with the injured ankle. But he hasn't yet run.
"It feels good," he said. "I'm not sure if I could run on it or anything yet. I haven't tried that, but I've been doing a lot of rehab and a lot of work on it, so I know I'm progressing."
Asked about Amukamara, Coughlin said, "I'm not sure about that guy. He's trying though, he's trying like heck."
*Michael Coe, who replaced Amukamara in the starting lineup, left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury. But he also hopes to be ready for the Tampa Bay game.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Coe said. "I'll see really after these next couple of days how it is, but I actually feel real good and I'm still able to move around, so that's encouraging for me. Being a DB, that's kind of like, 'Oh, is it going to bother me?' I don't really feel it too much, so we'll just see these next couple of days. I'll be getting treatment and things like that and see how it responds."
Coughlin said he was concerned about Coe.
"Anytime you have a corner, he's had this issue before, now it's on the other (leg)," Coughlin said. "I don't understand it. I didn't know there was a hamstring till about five years ago.
That's all we hear. You have to be able to take the field and play this game. Somehow, some way, people stay out there. We're in a position where we need all the help we can get back there."
*Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks caught four passes for 38 yards after missing all but a couple of series in the preseason-finale while rehabbing his surgically-repaired foot.
"I came out pretty good, a little sore afterwards as we expected," Nicks said. "The main thing is I finished the game, played tough. We've got some things to work on as a team, as an offense, but we will get those things turned around."
Nicks said he was not overly bothered by foot soreness during the game.
"I felt it at times on certain routes, but it wasn't nothing that held me from playing in the game or coming out of the game," he said. "It was maintainable. It wasn't excruciating pain or it wasn't extremely bad, but I maintained it and fought through it and finished the game."
Nicks is certain he will continue to feel better and improve as the season progresses.
"I feel like once I get in the swing of things, I could do a little more," Nicks said. "Right now, it's been a short training camp for me. Limited myself on the field and not being able to practice as much as I want to, but it's a matter of maintaining and not prolonging this foot injury, so I'm all for that. I'm sure I'll be myself here in about another game or two, but it's just a matter of me playing and getting through it."