New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has a rather large proverbial doghouse, and he isn't afraid to use it. Andre Brown knows this, because he saw fellow running back David Wilson land in that doghouse after fumbling in his first pro game last September.
Wilson turned it over on his second career carry in that prime-time opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and the first-round pick received only 25 carries over the next 11 weeks.
Not all situations are created equal, and Wilson's poor blocking skills certainly factored into the time he spent in that doghouse, but Brown has to know that he's now on notice after coughing it up in the second quarter of New York's preseason open Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coughlin has to know that he can trust his backs in every way. Wilson hasn't fumbled since his big miscue against the Cowboys, and Brown had never fumbled on 75 career regular-season carries, but this wasn't pretty.
It came on a simple pitch back from David Carr with no pressure from outside forces.
"His eyes never went to the ball," Coughlin said after the game, according to Tom Rock of Newsday. "He never looked at the ball. He was looking at the rush and fumbled the ball. By the time he got to where he started looking for the ball, the defenders were on him."
Brown received some touches after that, but preseason touches aren't necessarily indicative of what's to come when the games start meaning something.
The advantage Brown has is that this took place in early August, not early September. He didn't exactly stand out after the mistake, but he didn't screw up either. He can redeem himself in the weeks to come.
"I know I can be in the doghouse when you fumble the ball, especially with Coach Coughlin," Brown said, per Newsday. "I know he's going to be on me this week about holding onto the ball and my protection."
Brown is also a pretty solid blocker and is the most experienced back on the Giants roster. They can't fall back on Ahmad Bradshaw this time. So if he can go the rest of the preseason without coughing it up again, Brown should be out of the doghouse before the games start to matter.
Regardless, it's another opportunity for Wilson to take the reins in that backfield. The Virginia Tech speedster really began to get into a groove late last season, but he could only muster 21 yards on seven touches in Pittsburgh. This is a pass-first offense still, so Wilson's first job is to avoid mistakes. He did that Saturday, and his partner did not.