Why Tiki's Stamp Of Approval Is Important For David Wilson
Since he retired after the 2006 season, Tiki Barber hasn't had too many nice things to say about the New York Giants or their players. However, he's recently begun backtracking on his words and instead offering up praise to the likes of former teammates Eli Manning and Michael Strahan. It's not exactly clear whether Barber has begun to soften in his old(er) age, whether he's decided to seek headlines in a more positive way or whether he hopes for a job with his former team someday, but the fact is that this new and improved Barber is definitely a better version than the one Giants fans booed when his name was unveiled on the Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium back in 2010.
Recently, Barber has put in his two cents on new Giants running back David Wilson, and what he had to say was certainly music to the ears of Giants fans. According to Barber, Wilson is "as dynamic a player at that position that the Giants have ever had." Now in case you need your memory refreshed, the position he's referring to is the running back position — the same position that Barber played during an NFL career that saw him become the franchise's all-time leading rusher.
While Wilson only saw limited action last season in the running back role, playing mostly on special teams, the brief glimpses of that explosiveness and breakaway speed that he did provide was certainly enough to get Giants fans excited about the future — and apparently it was enough to excite Barber as well. Now, with all of the bitterness that Giants fans have harbored towards Barber in the last seven years, let's not forget just how good he was when he was at the top of his game.
Barber was responsible for his fair share of exciting, explosive plays that will forever be etched in the memories of Giants fans, along with games where it seemed like he was unstoppable. Who could forget his 220-yard performance against Kansas City in December 2005 that propelled the Giants to an eventual division title, or his 234-yard game against Washington in the season finale of 2006 that earned the team a playoff berth despite their 8-8 record?
When he was good, Barber was among the best in the league at what he did, so if there's anyone who's fit to judge a running back's potential, it's him. For as good as Barber was, though, he wasn't nearly as fast and as explosive as Wilson is (he'll even tell you himself).
"I didn't have breakaway speed like he does," said Barber. "I wasn't the athlete like he is. I worked hard to get where I was. As long as he doesn't take that for granted and works hard on top of it, he can be fantastic."
With Ahmad Bradshaw now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, Wilson's time has arrived. He'll have a chance to compete with Andre Brown for the starting job in training camp and during the preseason, but most people following the Giants know that it's only a matter of time before the backfield belongs to David Wilson — and hopefully the rest of the field as well.
That "dynamic" ability to make plays out of the backfield or on special teams is exactly what the Giants are hoping to utilize this season, and his proven ability to be a pass-catching back will really open up Eli Manning's options in the passing game, even more so than they are now. With the Giants' tandem of playmaking wide receivers spreading the field vertically, Wilson will keep defenses honest by being a consistent threat on screen plays, with the potential to turn a five-yard pass into a big gain — something that Tiki Barber knew how to do quite well.