Ahmad Bradshaw's history of toughness and playing with pain appears to be the only thing blocking the Giants from ruling the running back out for Sunday's game against the Falcons.
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"I'm not going to speculate, because of the toughness of this young man, on how long it would be," Coughlin said. "He's very positive about it and he wants to get back as fast as he can . . . I'm not going to rule him out of anything. I'm not going to talk about the percentages or anything like that. You can speculate on that knowing full well what the injury is."
In other words, it might be a couple of weeks before Bradshaw is back in the lineup. By then the Giants could be preparing for a playoff opponent. Or they could be . . . not.
A lot of that will depend on how well rookie David Wilson carries the load as the primary running back for the stretch run. A rookie and two backs who were on the street until the Giants signed them two weeks ago is not exactly the backfield the team envisioned for the push to the playoffs. But it seems that's what they'll have.
Wilson ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints, his first extensive use. He also returned a kickoff 97 yards for a TD.
"To come out and create some of the plays that the team helped me create and being able to show my explosiveness and getting in the mix a little bit, going into the next game it's not like I'm just thrown in there," Wilson said. "I had a couple plays and stayed in for a little while and had drives. It does help with confidence."
What little the Giants saw of Wilson impressed them.
"I think he did a great job," Eli Manning said. "We've got to build off of that. Usually late in the season, those rookies, they've seen it all. They either watched the guys in front of them or they've seen it in practice, all the different looks, and he'll be able to step up in there and make some plays for us."
"Without him," Justin Tuck said, "we don't win that game on Sunday, hands down."
This isn't the first time this season the Giants have had to manage without Bradshaw (assuming he is unavailable for the foreseeable future). He missed two games with a neck injury in the beginning of the season. He's played with a bone bruise in his foot and also had a hand injury at the start of the year. It's that ability to play through pain that has the Giants taking the decision for this upcoming game out of his hands.
"It's going to be a medical decision," Coughlin said. "It will be a decision in the best interest to the athlete. It will come from the medical people and we'll live by it."
They may live by it, but the question for the next few weeks is whether they can survive with it.