Brandon Jacobs will start against Bears, hoping to turn back clock
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One hundred and one.
Brandon Jacobs didn't have to look up the number. He knew it off the top of his head. It's how many yards he ran for against the Cowboys in Dallas on Dec. 11, 2011, the last time he was any team's primary running back. He did it on 19 carries, the most he'd had since he was the Giants' undisputed starter in 2009.
Thursday night, Jacobs will return to that role. A month after he was brought back on the roster to fill in the bottom of the depth chart, he has ascended to its top.
"I'm ready," the 31-year-old said Tuesday. "I just want to be able to prove to my teammates and this organization that I can still play and I can be just as effective now as I was five or six years ago. I just need the opportunity."
He'll get it now. David Wilson will miss the game against the Bearswith a neck injury that Tom Coughlin said has left him "week-to-week." The Giants thought so little of Da'Rel Scott that they cut him last week, but he's been re-signed as the backup. Coughlin has shown little faith in rookie Michael Cox, who might be pressed into action.
>In other words, the team will be relying on two one-time former Giants and a hasn't-been-yet to carry the load of a rushing game that was already the dregs of the league. The Giants are last at 56.8 yards per game, and are the only team in the NFL without a run of 20 or more yards.
"It'll be a challenge," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "It's going to be difficult, but I'm sure those guys are going to give it their best shot and the line is going to give it their best shot and we'll see what he can do."
Jacobs filled in for Wilson when he was injured early in Sunday's game against the Eagles. He finished with 37 yards on 11 carries. That was his most action in several years. He was a backup to Ahmad Bradshaw during the Super Bowl run late in 2011 (although he technically started the last two games of the regular season) and languished last year with the 49ers, playing in just two games. When Andre Brown fractured his leg in the preseason, the Giants brought Jacobs back in Week 2 because he knew the offense and could help guide the younger players.
They had no idea that a month later, he'd be the last man standing.
Jacobs may be looking forward to returning to the form he had when he was a perennial 1,000-yard rusher for the Giants. "I feel good," he said. "I feel like five years ago." But his mind-set has changed, at least publicly.
Jacobs was asked questions that in the past he would have chewed up and spit out as headlines. Does he have a chip on his shoulder? "Ehh," he sighed, "I would say no." Can he provide a spark for the team? "My main goal is to go in there and be 100 percent correct in the decisions that I make." What makes him confident the Giants can run against the Bears? "Week by week, we're getting better," he said.
Jacobs admitted that the years may have taken a bit of a toll on his abilities.
"You get older, things happen," he said, adding he's missed a few big runs in his short time back with the Giants because of mistimed steps. On Sunday, he fumbled a ball that simply squirted out of his grip. But he said he hasn't tried to change his game to accommodate any slip in skills.
"I am what I am," he said. "I am who you're looking at."
The Giants need him to be what he was.