AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin isn’t ready to give up on New York Giants running back David Wilson.
Wilson is certainly in Coughlin’s doghouse once again after fumbling twice and having one returned for a touchdown in the Giants’ six-turnover, 36-31 season-opening loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night.
The 2012 first-round pick was benched in the second half, and much of Coughlin’s conference call Monday centered on the state of the running game, whether Wilson would start this weekend against Denver in the third Manning Bowl, or if the coach was thinking of signing former Giant Brandon Jacobs.
A seemingly relaxed Coughlin refused to discuss his starting lineup, noting the team needs Wilson. Free agents will be worked out Tuesday, as usual, and a running back would be signed if it improved the roster.
"David Wilson is a very talented young man, who we need to be productive," Coughlin said. "We have been down this road before. We can help him be a better ball carrier, a better secure ball carrier."
Coughlin spoke with Wilson after the team watched films of the game and said his second-year back is anxious to improve his play. He expects to see it, too.
"He need him," Coughlin said.
Wilson has been through this before. He fumbled against Dallas on his first carry last season and landed on the bench. He eventually proved to be an outstanding kickoff returner and that helped him get back into the running back rotation, averaging 5.0 yards on 71 carries.
The problem has resurfaced. Wilson fumbled deep in Dallas territory on New York’s second possession, and he lost one early in the third quarter that was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Barry Church.
"We did preach so much about them being ball strippers and somehow, some way that didn’t sink in," Coughlin said. "He had the ball stripped twice. He’ll learn from it. He has great pride and we’ll try to get this under control."
The difference a year ago was that Wilson was Ahmad Bradshaw’s backup and the Giants could afford to sit Wilson. Bradshaw was let go after last season, so Wilson is the man this year, and there isn’t much behind him.
His backup, Andre Brown, is on recallable injured reserve with a broken left leg, leaving untested Da’Rel Scott and rookie Michael Cox as the backups.
Jacobs played for the Giants from 2005-11. He signed with San Francisco for the 2012 season and was released late in the year.
Jacobs and Willis McGahee are expected to work out for the Giants on Tuesday.
Scott, a third-year player, did OK after replacing Wilson. However, he didn’t react to a screen call late in the game with New York near midfield and down six points. Eli Manning’s pass hit off his arm and was returned 49 yards for a clinching touchdown by Brandon Carr.
The running game and the blocking for it weren’t the only problem. Manning threw three interceptions, including one on the opening play of the game.
The positive for New York was it had a chance to win despite all the errors. The offense rolled up 478 yards in total offense, Manning hit Victor Cruz for three touchdowns, and Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle all had more than 100 yards receiving.
The defense that was ranked 31st in the league last season limited Dallas to 331 yards, but could not overcame the mistakes by the offense and special teams that led to led to 24 points.
"A game like that will never happen to us again," safety Antrel Rolle said Monday. "Even with six turnovers they were still scratching their heads at the end of the game, hoping the whistle would blow."
Veteran Giants guard Chris Snee said everyone needed to take a hard look at himself Monday.
"Look at what we did with six turnovers, how close we were to beating that football team," Snee said, adding if the trend continues that Giants aren’t going to have much success this season.
NOTES: Coughlin said CB Prince Amukamara is feeling better after missing part of the game with a concussion. ... The coach refused to say how rookie offensive tackle Justin Pugh and third-year left guard James Brewer played in their first starts, but he said they will benefit from the experience and be more confident in the future. ... Two of the Cowboys’ picks came on screen passes, which Coughlin said was "incredible."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org