David Wilson's expectations for Friday night are high.
"I'm visualizing the first carry and then take it all the way," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting back out there in competition. I'm a high-level competitor. I've been dying for competition since January."
Tonight, he and his fellow rookies get their first taste of NFL competition when the New York Giants play the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason opener. For months now Giants' fans have been hearing about the speed of Wilson, the hands of Rueben Randle, and the tenacity of Jayron Hosley. For many, this will be their first chance to see it.
It will be a first time for the coaches to see how those first three draft picks and other young players fare, too. So far they have flashed in workouts and practices, but have yet to go against live action.
"In practice, you're not really able to hit each other and things like that," Randle said. "It's hard to show (breaking tackles) during practice. But I think when game time comes, it'll be a pretty good time to show up."
The rookies may be looking for breakouts, but the coaches just want to avoid breakdowns. Things will be kept simple. The idea will be to ease them into the new professional environment.
"I need to see ball security," Tom Coughlin said.
But just like Giants fans, he's also curious how the rookies' on-paper athleticism will translate to the field.
"We'd like to see David's big play potential," Coughlin said. "Rueben has been a guy that has caught the ball consistently all through camp. He's very smooth. He's gotten himself open, caught the football. I wouldn't think there would be a reason for him not to continue that in the preseason."
Wilson, the first-round pick, will be the one who is truly tested Friday. He'll have to show a firm grip on the ball as well as the playbook. He'll have to show he can pick up blitzes and protect backup quarterbacks before they let him stand in front of Eli Manning.
"There are some things that I'm very impressed with, and some things that I'm not," running backs coach Jerald Ingram said. "We'll decide when he's ready, and his teammates will decide when he's ready. It's a learning curve process for all rookie running backs right now. There have been more busts than greats, so let's find a way to make him great."
Wilson has spent the last two weeks of training camp ducking, juking and spinning away from defensive players who aren't allowed to tackle him.
"He hasn't been in this game a long time," Ingram said. "Practice is one thing; the game is another. The challenge of the game, we're looking forward to it this weekend, and this whole preseason process, to see what he can do."
While the coaches want to see it, the rookies already believe they can do it.
"It means a lot," Randle said of his first NFL experience. "We're going to be able to show the coaches what we're capable of doing. I think they'll gain more confidence in us, (and we'll earn) more trust also from the players around us. It's going to be a big step for us."
And if Wilson does take that first handoff and go all the way like he has visualized, well, it could be a big step for the entire team.
New York Giants
at Jacksonville Jaguars
7:30 p.m. tonight