Coach's Big Decision: Hand off to ???

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
1:59
PM ET
The Giants have a big opportunity to run the ball against the Panthers on Thursday night.

The question is, who will Eli Manning hand the ball off to?

Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a neck injury Sunday against the Buccaneers and has been ruled out for the game against Carolina.

Now the carries will go to either Andre Brown or rookie David Wilson -- who have a combined total of 20 carries in the NFL.

My two cents? Continue to use Wilson as a change-of-pace back, as originally planned, and hand Brown his first NFL start.

Why? Well, the 25-year-old Brown looked solid in place of Bradshaw against the Bucs, rushing 13 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. He hit the holes hard, running north and south, and averaged 5.5 yards per carry -- not too shabby.

Plus, throw in the fact that the NC State product , a native of Greenville, N.C., will be playing in front of friends and family -- his motivation level will be sky-high.

Wilson's speed -- particularly his acceleration -- are jaw-dropping. He's a weapon, there's no doubt about that.

But the first-round pick is still getting his feet week -- evidenced by his fumble in Week 1 and his dropped pass in Week 2. Plus, can you trust him in pass protection yet? The answer is, probably not.

The Giants -- last in the league in rushing a year ago -- aren't off to a great start on the ground in 2012, either. After two games, they're ranked No. 24 out of 32 teams, averaging 88 yards per game.

But the Panthers have relinquished 146.5 yards rushing per game -- making them fifth-worst in the NFL in that category.

Everyone's talking about Manning's 510 yards passing on Sunday -- with 378 of them going to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.

But the Giants could win this game on the ground.

So go ahead and give Brown the chance of a lifetime.

Who knows? Big Blue may just have discovered a diamond in the rough.
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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