Considering the amount of time he's missed over the last two seasons and the lingering foot injury that will cost him the first couple months of his 2013 offseason, you'd have to believe that it's only a matter of time before veteran New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is Wally Pipped by 2012 first-round pick David Wilson.
We learned this week that Bradshaw recently underwent a second surgery on the right foot that has been nagging him for the better part of two years. It could keep him on the shelf for 10 weeks, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
But what kind of shape will he be in at that point? Moreover, can we expect the foot or any other Bradshaw body part to hold up on a long-term basis?
The Giants drafted Wilson with the final pick of the first round last year with this in mind, and that selection is really starting to look like a good one. While the Virginia Tech speedster struggled a bit early and landed in Tom Coughlin's doghouse, his blocking improved over the course of the season and he finished much stronger than his senior partner.
At some point, that seniority is going to lose its value for Bradshaw. It's just a question of when.
Tom Coughlin is old-school enough that he'll enter 2013 with Bradshaw as the starter so long as he's healthy, but Wilson's workload will continue to increase—especially if he can become a better all-around player in the offseason.
Rather than just being a runner, which is something he was both praised and criticized for by the coaching staff during his rookie season, Wilson has to work on his patience, his vision and of course his ability to pick up blitzes and throw blocks.
Those improvements are expected. Lots of backs come out of school lacking in those areas and clearly scouts feel Wilson has the ability to make the necessary adjustments that many have before him.
So rather than wait for Wilson to step in for an inevitably banged-up or completely injured Bradshaw in 2013, why don't the Giants save us the drama and move on from Bradshaw this spring? That's a possibility, especially when you consider that the cap-strapped G-men can save Bradshaw's entire $3.75 million 2013 salary by doing so.
If that does happen, don't expect it to come before free agency. They'll want to get a good look at both players before making any rash decisions.
Bradshaw is still only 26 years old and averaged a very solid 4.6 yards per carry in 2012. Wilson was better in a limited sample size, but it still feels as though it's too soon to fully hand him the reins.
There's also Andre Brown, who is Bradshaw's age but has more tread on his tires and averaged a team-high 5.2 yards per rush in 2012. Brown's durability is also a potential issue, but the restricted free agent could certainly be wrapped up for less cash than Bradshaw is scheduled to cost New York.
I would completely understand if the Giants decided later this offseason that they'd be better off saving a few million dollars and going with a Brown/Wilson committee in the backfield, simply because I believe that Wilson will take over for Bradshaw at some point in 2013 anyway.