ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Monday that New York Giants running back David Wilson will have another MRI on his neck this week and that the results of that test could determine whether Wilson is able to return to the field this season. Wilson has been out since Week 5 with the neck injury and said shortly after it happened that he was being treated for spinal stenosis.
If Wilson can't return, the simple fact is that the Giants' running game can't be what they'd hoped it would be this season -- a big-play option on offense. The Giants believed, prior to this season, that Wilson's talent and his development going into his second NFL season made him a threat to take the ball the distance any time they gave it to him, and they were excited about adding a big-play ground element to their big-play passing attack.
Of course, for a whole bunch of reasons, this did not work out. Wilson fumbled twice in the season opener, getting himself benched. Andre Brown, who was supposed to shoulder some of the starter's load, got hurt in the preseason and hasn't played. The Giants' offensive line has been a horrible mess, which has prevented the run game and the passing game from getting anything consistent going. And then Wilson got hurt in that Week 5 game against the Eagles.
If Wilson can come back this year, the Giants' offense has a chance to look something like they'd planned it to look. There is no back on the roster -- not even with Brown eligible to return this week -- who offers the potential that Wilson offers for big plays in the run game. They have shown they can at least get by with the likes of Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs and Michael Cox, and Brown obviously helps. But without Wilson, the Giants' run game is a mere accessory that allows them to pursue the kind of offensive balance they say they want and, if nothing else, help Eli Manning work the play-action passing game.
That said, obviously Wilson's health is the most important thing here. Even if the Giants were a playoff contender, the results of this upcoming MRI would be the sole determining factor in whether Wilson could return to the field in 2013. Since they're 2-6 and should be looking to the future anyway, a diagnosis that keeps Wilson off the field until next year would be easier to swallow than it would if they were 6-2. They can muddle through in the run game and hope for bigger things in 2014 and beyond. They'd likely be a lot more effective and a lot more fun to watch if they had a healthy Wilson and had ingrained him into the offense more effectively than they did. But clearly, the Giants' 2013 plans haven't worked out.