The 2011 ACC Player of the Year gained 43 yards on seven carries, adding 26 yards on two catches and another 76 yards on two KRs. Most important, Wilson showed the explosiveness that the Giants lacked in 2011 when they finished last in the NFL in rushing.
Yes, Wilson sandwiched a 26-yard run between a no gain and a 5-yard loss, but these are rookie mistakes, and they’re completely outweighed by the positives.
Starter Ahmad Bradshaw has always been a steady, solid, hard-nosed runner. Wilson is hoped to complement Bradshaw as a true home-run threat.
Here are a few other highs and lows from the Giants’ loss in Jacksonville:
Who helped their cause?
Backup defensive lineman Adrian Tracy: He did himself a huge favor with a strip sack and a tackle (On a down note, Tracy was frozen solid by Jaguars RB Montell Owens on a TD run.) Rookie Markus Kuhn batted down a pass, Dwayne Hendricks had two sacks and Matt Broha and Craig Marshall each added a sack.
TE Martellus Bennett: In addition to some good early run blocking, Bennett also flashed his receiving skills, catching a bullet from David Carr for a touchdown. Bennett caught all three passes that were thrown his way.
Safety Will Hill: The Giants might not need to re-sign Deon Grant after all. Hill, a New Jersey native, had four tackles and was around the ball whenever he was on the field. He also played with the first-team nickel defense, which is a good sign for him.
MLB Mark Herzlich: Herzlich used the recent injuries at LB to his advantage. He finished with just two tackles but was around the ball all game, showing great speed and athleticism. Herzlich is battling Chase Blackburn for the starting job, and he played like an NFL starter Friday night.
WR Isaiah Stanback: A former QB, Stanback looked like a polished WR while holding off Jaguars CB Kevin Rutland with one hand and catching a TD pass from Carr with the other. The depth chart is loaded at WR, so he has a tough road, but the physical tools are clearly there.
Who hurt their cause?
WR/PR Jerrel Jernigan: He gave Giants fans a flashback to his inconsistent rookie season when he muffed a punt in the fourth quarter. The former third-round pick was targeted twice but failed to make a catch, and he had a forgettable 19-yard kick return.
Safety Jojo Nicolas: Already buried on the depth chart, Nicolas could have been flagged for an illegal hit on Jaguars TE Zach Potter during the second quarter. Nicolas appeared to lead with his head and shoulder on an overthrown pass from Chad Henne, but a flag was never thrown. These are the kinds of mistakes that Coughlin notices and detests.
Backup OL: Rookie G Brandon Mosley and T Joel Reinders were each penalized, and Mitch Petrus was beaten for a sack by D’Anthony Smith. Mosley also allowed a sack to Corvey Irvin in the fourth quarter.
Replacement referees: Too many mistakes to really tabulate, so let’s just say the NFL officials union made a big statement on Friday in Jacksonville.
CB Prince Amukamara: The second-year CB yielded two receptions on the first drive, including a 29-year pass from Blaine Gabbert to Mike Thomas and a fade to Cecil Shorts for a touchdown. The good news is that he responded on the second defensive possession by stripping Shorts of the football.
CB/PR Jayron Hosley: With Terrell Thomas battling knee problems, the Giants are without a true nickelback and would like to avoid playing safety Antrel Rolle at the position again this year. That’s why Hosley’s second-quarter sack was such a good sign. If Hosley can earn that job, the team could avoid having to re-sign Grant, which gives the Giants more roster flexibility. ... Hosley had a long PR that was called back when it was decided he was guilty of holding on the play (how that is possible is a question only a replacement referee can answer), and later he muffed a punt, which allowed Jacksonville to score an easy TD. Hosley, who was calling for a fair catch at the 10-yard line (a good decision), failed to set his feet or get his body underneath the ball.
Who didn’t play: LT Will Beatty (back), DT Rocky Bernard (knee), LB Michael Boley (hamstring), LB Jake Muasau (hamstring), LB Jacquian Williams (hip), WR Domenik Hixon (hamstring), WR David Douglas (quad), DE Justin Trattou (ankle), RB Da’Rel Scott (thigh) and CB Terrell Thomas as well as PUP players WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), TE Travis Beckum (knee), DT Chris Canty (knee) and LB Clint Sintim (knee).