New York Giants running back David Wilson is turning to one of the team’s most famous ex-players to solve his fumbling problem.
Wilson fumbled twice in the Giants’ 36-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, leaving many, including head coach Tom Coughlin, to wonder if the second-year player would be able to hold onto the team’s starting running back job. As a result, Wilson has received advice from Giants legend Tiki Barber -- who once battled a fumbling problem of his own -- for advice on how to properly secure the football.
"[Barber] gave me some advice I can really use," Wilson told Newsday. "It makes sense. It felt good in practice, so I plan on using it."
In an interview with Newsday, Barber explained that Wilson had failed to properly secure the football just before each of his two fumbles last Sunday, allowing Cowboys players to strip the ball out of his hands. Still, Barber insists that Wilson’s ball-carrying troubles can be corrected.
"If people are ready to give up on David, that's ridiculous," Barber told Newsday. "As much as people want to say it's in his head, that he has to be smarter and man up and do these things, it's so much of a mechanical thing. It's fixable. The key is awareness of when contact is coming. If you watch David's fumbles, he's not aware of contact. He just thinks he can go through [the tackler], and by the time the contact comes, the ball is already compromised."
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Barber is acutely aware of the manner in which fumbling can derail a running back’s career. The former Giants running back fumbled 35 times from 2000 to 2003, Newsday notes. When Coughlin became the Giants’ new head coach in 2003, he made it clear that the fumbles would not be tolerated. "He said to me, 'If you're going to put the ball on the ground, you're not going to play,'" Barber told Newsday.
By adopting a “high-and-tight” carrying method, Barber was able to correct the problem, fumbling just nine times over the next three seasons. Now, Barber has passed the technique along to Wilson -- along with some words of wisdom.
"I just gave him some encouragement, and hopefully he takes it," Barber told Newsday. "He can be special. This is the one thing that's hanging him up right now, and he can't let it become a self-fulfilling prophecy that gets him discouraged. I think he has a great attitude, and if he can figure it out -- and I think he will -- he has all the athletic ability to be a special player."