David Wilson suddenly gets star treatment

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
5:07
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Reporters swarm around the same players every week in the Giants locker room. The quarterback, Eli Manning, always has a big crowd around him when he talks. Defensive end Justin Tuck draws a large group, too -- as does safety Antrel Rolle.

On Wednesday, the media had a new target: rookie running back David Wilson.

"There's a new celebrity in town," said O-lineman Chris Snee, smiling, as he walked past Wilson's locker after practice.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireDavid Wilson's three-TD game thrust the rookie into the spotlight.
He's right. New York, and the NFL, are still buzzing about Wilson's performance three days ago against the Saints. He scored three touchdowns and became the first player in NFL history to have at least 200 kickoff return yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game.

Wilson said he hasn't received too much ribbing from his teammates about all the extra attention. "They've just been real happy for me," Wilson said, "telling me they're expecting it every week (now)."

The rookie might get an even bigger opportunity this coming Sunday against the Falcons, with Ahmad Bradshaw suffering from a sprained knee. Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday, and coach Tom Coughlin does not sound confident Bradshaw will be able to play. (Click here to read more.)

Wilson has just 41 carries on the season, for 211 yards. But he believes he can handle being the Giants' primary ball carrier. "It's football," Wilson said. "I've been playing it for a while now."

Wilson also wants to continue handling kickoff returns, even if he becomes the starter at running back. Can you blame him? He has 1,321 kickoff return yards on the season -- tops in the NFL by almost 300 yards.

"That's always been the part of the game that I favored the most and enjoyed the most," Wilson said. "Because there's no real heavy assignment -- it's just going out and competing and trying to dominate the kickoff team."

Another big topic of conversation Wednesday was Wilson's touchdown celebration -- a backflip, which he unleashed three times last Sunday.

Wilson said he plans to keep doing flips. But some of his teammates aren't thrilled about it. (Click here to read more.)

Regardless of whether Wilson continues his post-TD acrobatics, he is suddenly a key factor in the Giants' fortune this season. He has come a long way since opening night on Sept. 5, when he committed a costly fumble in a loss to the Cowboys and landed in Coughlin's doghouse.

"That's a dramatic change," Wilson said, laughing. "I just kept sticking with it, being persistent, and trying to get better and better. And preparing each week like my number was going to be called."

It finally got called last Sunday, and he delivered.

"He's accepted any and every role that we've given him," said Coughlin. "He's always come to practice or to the meetings with an interest in trying to learn everything as fast as he possibly could.

"Someone asked me that the other night about his attitude, and his attitude has never changed. It's always been an aggressive, positive attitude."

And it's starting to pay off.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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