Throughout the first week of New York Giants training camp at the University of Albany, running back Ahmad Bradshaw has been the one getting the first carry in practice.
While coach Tom Coughlin downplays the significance of lining up with the first team, it hints that the days of fellow back Brandon Jacobs wearing down defenses early to set up Bradshaw running late might be changing. Now Bradshaw may be tiring opponents early so Jacobs can run them over later.
Bradshaw darted around the question of whether his role was changing.
"I’m expecting a lot more from the offense, and I’m expecting to help out a lot," he said between practices on Saturday.
However, it’s clear that Bradshaw is going to have a bigger role if he can stay healthy, which is a big if.
The fourth-year pro had to have cracked bones in both of his feet and bone spurs and ankle surgically repaired after last season. The pain was so bad that Bradshaw barely practiced in 2009.
Despite the offseason surgeries, Bradshaw is practicing twice a day. He does a lot of icing between workouts and has new insoles for his shoes.
“I feel great about it,” Bradshaw said. “I feel 100 percent compared to last year.”
Jacobs played all last season with a troublesome right knee. He eventually missed the final game and had surgery to repair it in the offseason.
"Brandon looks good," Coughlin said. "He’s running well, he goes out there every day and he can work and that’s a big plus. He looks fast."
Coughlin then cautioned the media against making too much of who gets the first carry.
"You guys are all hung up on that stuff," he said. "All I want are healthy bodies and depth. They’ll be utilized and as you know, there are a lot of games to play."
Jacobs, even if he's not starting, would be the slightly more valuable back because he'll undoubtedly get most of the work at the goal line. Still, both Bradshaw and Jacobs represent good values this year if they stay healthy. They are likely going to outperform their ADP and while they won't carry any fantasy teams to championships, each of them can make nice contributions to a winning fantasy team.