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Getting benched and ending up in coach Tom Coughlin’s doghouse after just two carries wasn’t on the list.
Wilson put himself in the “Chateau Bow-Wow” in the season opener last week when he fumbled at the Dallas 27 in the first quarter of a scoreless game. The Cowboys eventually won, 24-17.
The Virginia Tech product didn’t get another carry after that. He only returned kickoffs the rest of the way.
While coaches have been reminding him to carry the ball high and tight since the fumble, no one has been harder on Wilson than himself heading into Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay (1-0) at MetLife Stadium.
Watching television at home, Wilson has placed a ball in his arm to reinforce the idea of maintaining possession. He even punished himself after getting a text message from Chanston Rodgers, his running backs coach at George Washington High in Danville, Va.
“You know you have ‘OB,’” Wilson said Wednesday, recalling the text. He knew exactly what it meant, too.
It stood for “oddball.” It was an expression for what players had to do at practice after fumbling in a game.
The player carries the ball in the proper position and runs 100 yards. Sounds simple. But after every five yards, the player has to drop to the ground and keep the arm tucked and the ball solidly in place. Do it 20 times over 100 yards and it can be a keen reminder not to fumble.
Wilson ran through the drill at the Timex Performance Center last week with no one around. The ironic thing is that he never fumbled in high school, so he never had to do the drill.
“I went and did my OB,” Wilson said.
Now the key is to get back into the running back rotation. Ahmad Bradshaw handled the load against Dallas, carrying 17 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, an upset Wilson could only watch after the fumble.
“Being on the sidelines and watching everybody else playing and just hoping for the best, it’s kind of like a hopeless feeling,” Wilson said. “There wasn’t much I could do about it, so I tried to take advantage on kick returns.”
Wilson averaged nearly 24 yards on three kickoff returns.
“He’s anxious to do right,” said Coughlin, adding Wilson will get some carries on Sunday. Coughlin, however, said Wilson is not totally out of the doghouse, and he won’t be until he shows he can carry the ball without losing it.
“Whatever I do, no matter what, high and tight,” Wilson said. “If I have the ball, it’s high and tight.”
Wilson was in a good mood after practice, even laughing when questioned about something other than fumbling. Now he wants to start living up to the expectations that cropped up after he gained 49 yards on five carries against the Bears in the third preseason game.
Heading into the regular season, Wilson said he hoped to average 5.0 yards a carry, score 10 touchdowns, have at least six 100-yard games, allow no sacks while pass protecting, have at least one play of 20 yards per game and, of course, have no fumbles.
His statistics for Game 1?
Two carries, 4 yards and one fumble.
“That was my first game,” Wilson said. “That’s something I hope to look back on and kind of laugh about.”
“As a rookie, I had the same play, the same exact situation,” Bradshaw said. “I just told him to keep his head up. Those things happen. I told him to work on the ball things, which is ball security, having the ball in the right hand at the right time. I just told him to get it out of his mind and keep his head up.”
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