The Giants finally had their full allotment of players Thursday following the official ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
And of all the players missing in action since the start of training camp, none was missed more than running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Like most teams, the Giants had to wait until 4 p.m. to see whether newly-signed players could suit up for camp and Bradshaw said he was itching to get back to work and put the business side behind him.
Bradshaw said he expected more than the four-year, $18 million deal he got, but added he’s “happy to be here and happy with what I got.” The sparkplug running back praised his backfield mate and good friend Brandon Jacobs for making it possible to return. It was Jacobs who took a pay cut so the Giants could have some cap maneuverability — and who personally called Bradshaw every day to lobby for his return.
Although Bradshaw joked that Jacobs hasn’t asked for anything in return, he said he’ll certainly take care of his good friend – including sharing the workload.
"He loves me, man. I respect him more than anything for doing that [pay cut]. He’s a big brother to me and I’ll share whatever I have with him," Bradshaw said, adding Jacobs’s increased role will only help them both. “It keeps us healthy and you last longer in the game. You have to look towards the end of your career, too.
Bradshaw’s career in Big Blue was almost in jeopardy when reports came out that the Giants were entertaining other free agents. He said while he followed the proceedings from afar, he was never truly worried and didn’t take the flirting with Jason Snelling as a threat.
“No [he wasn’t threatened]. He’s a bigger back and we have two different talents [so] it was no threat to me,” he shrugged. “Like I said, I just do my part. All I can hope is that the Giants [liked] what they saw in me and gave me a contract.”
When asked what he thought of Panthers’ running back DeAngelo Williams’s large contract, Bradshaw was as shifty answering the questions as he is in the open field.
“He’s a great back and the Panthers have a different situation with that [salary cap] than us and I guess they handled it that way,” Bradshaw said. “Like I said, when I touch the field, you’re going to get everything. I love this game and regardless of how much money I have, I’m always going to give my all.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin said he was obviously excited to have Bradshaw back. And added now that the money issue is resolved, there’s one more daunting task of which to tend.
“Ball security, ball security, ball security — even at the expense of trying to make the extra effort,” Coughlin said. “To know exactly where the ball is at all times and to know people are coming after you, that is the nature of our game now.”
Coughlin added that it wasn’t just Bradshaw’s errors that caused an avalanche of turnovers last season, but said as the featured back he must take care of the ball more.
“That is something that we all have to work on, the whole team. To lead the league in takeaways and lead the league in giveaways, it is just ridiculous,” Coughlin said. “That is something that everyone has to be concerned with. If we can get back to the 2008 numbers … if we did that last year, we would have two more wins.”
Bradshaw agreed with Coughlin’s assertion and said the fumbling issue was just a byproduct of him trying too hard to fight for every yard. He said he’ll have that problem rectified by opening day.
“I’ve worked on just the strength of holding the ball in my hands [and] on wrist protection,” Bradshaw said, adding he won’t change his manic running style. “I’m always going to fight for an extra yard, regardless. I just have to keep [the ball] close to my body, keep [the ball] tight.”
Other than Jacobs, Eli Manning might’ve been the most excited to see No. 44 back in the mix.
“Having Ahmad back, a great playmaker, a guy who knows the offense, should be able to step right in and make a lot of plays for us,” Manning said. “[Ahmad] is good catching the ball and running the ball, so I’m glad to have him back.”
Big Blue notes
» Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard was a former Giant for less than a week. He was re-signed, Thursday, after being released last Friday. He played for the Giants in 2009 and 2010 after signing as a free agent following seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. His best season was ’09 [61 tackles and three sacks].
» Another defensive lineman, Mathias Kiwanuka, is also happy to be returning to Big Blue. Kiwi, who missed most of last season with a herniated disk in his neck, said he’ll feel better once he gets that first hit: “It's something that's going to be in the back of your head until you get out there and get that first hit … I was cleared to play some time ago, so it's been something I've been ready for a few months now. After I get out there and get a first hit it's full steam ahead.”
Kiwi added that while he won’t interject on Osi Umenyiora’s contract stance he understands where Osi is coming from, acknowledging an NFL career can end anytime: “I am the example. It's definitely a concern to every guy that goes out there. Every time you step on the field, Coach Coughlin always says ‘you never know which snap is going to be your last.’ It has to be in your mind when you're out there playing hard but when it comes down to business it is also something that you have to consider.”
» Count Coughlin as being weary of the Osi talk: “I'm not talking about Osi. I have nothing to say. I don't know anything. It seems like there's chapters. When I do have something to tell you, I'll tell you. But I don't know any more than all of the speculation. I'd rather talk about the guys that are here and are practicing.”
Coughlin, who added that Osi’s hip injury has “nothing” to do with him sitting our practices, said this saga isn’t a distraction … yet: “Right now, to be honest with you, it's not. We wouldn't want to go a whole lot further than this, obviously. We want everybody focused on making our team better. The sooner that all of these things get resolved and we get Osi back on the field, the better we're going to be.”
» Former Boston College star Mark Herzlich has been doing some good things, even though he’s playing a less familiar role of middle linebacker. Coughlin said he’s pleased with what he sees: “He’s playing in the Mike spot and has moved pretty well. I think he’s moving better perhaps than he did a year ago. He was a great college player and had all the numbers to go with it. He’s smart and competitive…everybody’s cheering for him.”
» Will Beatty is listed as the starting left tackle but offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said he’ll still have to earn David Diehl’s old spot: “William Beatty has to earn this job also. He has not earned this job in the NFL. But in saying that, he has the proper attitude and that’s what it’s going to take to be a football player and somebody you can count on — but he still has to earn that job.”
» Defensive line coach Robert Nunn said there’s one player in his unit to keep an eye on: “This kid is talented. He’s a very unique player,” he beamed over Jason Pierre-Paul. “I’ve been around the league 12 years and I have not coached one that he compares to. He’s kind of his own guy — how strong he is and how talented and how much range he has. We’ve got a long way to go to get the technique that he needs to have to reach that potential [but] I can’t say anything else about him. He’s always wanting to do what you ask him to do. If he continues to do that, things are going to work out for him … he’s got some special ability.”
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