Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is the marquee name for Indianapolis, but there are a pair of former Giants who undoubtedly want to show their ex-mates what they’re missing Monday night.
Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said he definitely expects former teammates Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks to give their best efforts in helping Big Blue continue their losing streak.
“[Bradshaw] just epitomizes toughness. I saw a couple games live and they’re talking about his [neck] injury and coming back and the way he’s running without any fear or with complete disregard for the fact that he had issues,” said Kiwanuka. “It makes me respect him even more. When you approach a guy who’s athletic, who’s good in space, who blocks well, who runs the ball as hard as he can and who also has that passion and wants it, you’ve got to be able to match that intensity.”
Bradshaw has tallied 372 yards on 76 carries with two touchdowns — and six more receiving — as he’s shared the load with former first-round pick Trent Richardson. But the veteran has made the most of his touches, as he’s currently the 19th-most efficient running back in the league, as formulated by FootballOutsiders.com, a website specifically designed to gauge a player’s effectiveness. Bradshaw has had a resurgent season in Indianapolis, as he’s rated higher than notable franchise backs like LeSean McCoy, Eddie Lacy and Gio Bernard.
“I never thought he was done. I never think anybody’s done until they say that they’re done and he never said that once,” said Kiwanuka. “Oh yeah, we know that he’ll come in here with lots to prove. We’re no stranger to players coming back here. It’s part of the business [and] it’s part of the league. He’ll be fired up and ready to go, but we’re ready for anybody.”
Linebacker Jameel McClain, who needs to be ready to fill the shoes of the injured Jon Beason (injured reserve/foot), said Bradshaw is running as hard as he’s ever seen, but added the Colts’ offensive line has also been as good in opening up lanes for the shifty runner.
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“When you can get running backs out of the backfield, you’re doing something good. It means that your O-line is blocking, blocking really well when you’re getting that many people out,” McClain said, not forgetting Richardson. “Both running backs are getting the ball in their hands and they’re taking it up field trying to score. That’s what everybody expects at this level, but to be able to get it done on that type of basis is impressive It’s not anything I want to play short.”
Bradshaw felt shorted when the Giants released him following the 2012-13 season. He said via conference call he’s taking this game with a little more sense of determination.
Originally saying all the right things following his departure, it was evident that Bradshaw had this game circled on his calendar for a long time.
“It just hurt me, man, because that was my family. I was a big part of that team,” Bradshaw said. “I gave everything I could to the Giants. Injury-wise, I gave my all whenever I was out there, hurt or not. When I left, I didn’t know at first why [but] eventually, I kind of sat back and thought about it, and everything came into the conversation — the business aspect, the money, the injuries. And they had the younger guys [David Wilson and Andre Brown] that they felt could handle the task that I left. ... But I still felt like I had a lot of football left.”
Kiwanuka knows Bradshaw has tons left. He just hopes his good friend doesn’t have show it Monday night.
“I know how to approach [tackling Bradshaw], too. You’ve got to keep your eyes on him until the very last second because he will move, he will shift. Don’t watch his head because that will get you in trouble. You’ve got to stay low and once you get his legs, you have to drive yours because he’s got power below,” said Kiwanuka. “Yeah, he’s a former teammate [and] I wish him the best every week except this week. You never wish an injury on anybody, but if we can hold him to the worst outing of his year, that will be good for us.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.