Veteran Ahmad Bradshaw teaches rookie, looks forward to upcoming season

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) watches teammates

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) watches teammates during training camp. (July 28, 2012) (Credit: Hans Pennink)

ALBANY -- Ahmad Bradshaw had a lot of roles for the Giants in his five previous years with the team, from special teams to backup running back to starter. Now, though, for the first time in his career, he's becoming a mentor.

Even if that ultimately hastens the end of his own tenure here.

When the Giants drafted David Wilson in the first round, Bradshaw didn't take it as a sign that he might be pushed out the door by this sleek-footed, flashy new model. Instead, he embraced his role as a veteran the same way Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward did for him when he first came into the league.

Of course, Bradshaw came in as a seventh-round pick in 2007, so the threat level wasn't as high. Still, those other two guys are gone now and Bradshaw is still here. And he's giving some advice to Wilson.

The most recent lesson: Save some of it for the games, son.

Wilson has a habit of darting and cutting and juking during practices. It's very impressive. But Bradshaw and others are worried that it will cut into his career and that he could get hurt.

On Friday, for example, he tried to stop to avoid Shaun Rogers -- yes, the 370-pound Shaun Rogers -- on a run up the middle and got bent over backward. It was a little scary.

"He's still young," said Bradshaw (who is 26 but probably has the ankles and feet of a man twice that age). "He kind of does his own thing: juking and doing a lot of different things, putting a lot of torque on his ankles and knees. So we're trying to teach him how to be a professional and hold back on some of those things.

"I'm just trying to bring him along with the information we learn and just different things how we learned it as rookies and coming up as young guys."

That lesson might have had an impact. On Saturday in practice, Wilson saw a hole in 11-on-11 snaps that earlier in camp he might have danced around. This time he split through it, giving a subtle shimmy in the gap before taking off down the field.

"When I was young, I came in and I was spinning a lot, doing a lot of different things that he does," Bradshaw said. "Just with the fresh legs, you feel good and you want to show your talents out there. But everybody knows he's fast and he can make moves. It's just the way he does it, and there are times when it's not even needed."

As for his own running game, Bradshaw said he feels as if he can go the distance this season. He hasn't missed a practice, which is a very good sign. Perhaps the selection of Wilson has had something to do with that, stoking a competitive fire that has always burned in Bradshaw.

The Giants drafted one running back, but they may have resurrected another in the process.

"I'm so anxious to play," Bradshaw said. "I just can't wait to see how I can hold up. I think the way I feel now, I can go all 16, hopefully 19, however it comes. But right now I feel great. I can't explain how excited I am for this year."

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