Long gone are the days of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw ruling the Giants’ backfield.
So when Giants running back Andre Brown looks around the locker room these days at his fellow backfield teammates, he’s met with an unfamiliar sight and an unsettling epiphany is conjured: As the oldest running back on the team, it’s his time to step and be a leader.
“Being around Ahmad and Brandon early in my career, speaking of them as leaders, and now as me being more of a vocal leader, it’s kind of a setback,” the 26-year-old Brown said. “Those guys did most of the talking leadership-wise, and they carried the leadership in the room. Now, I’m the oldest guy in the room and it’s like: ‘All right, I’ve got to become more of a vocal leader and make sure the young boys know, Michael [Cox] knows the plays and the protections.’
“I go over them with [Cox] and make sure he knows the steps and stuff like that. I guess I’m finally mature enough where I can step into that role and be a very effective leader.”
Brown is the most-tenured running back on the Giants roster, which says more about their backfield situation than it does about Brown’s career. Seeing the field consistently for the first time in his career since being drafted in 2010, Brown was sidelined midway through the 2012 season with a broken left fibula. He ended the season with 385 yards on 73 carries.
There was always the possibility that the Giants could bring Bradshaw back, something both sides hinted at as a possibility once he was released this spring. But Bradshaw’s signing with the Colts on Tuesday closed that door.
Brown, now in his fourth year, is accepting of the role and is reaching back to his college days, when he held a similar leadership position.
“I had it before in college, I always had it, but I wasn’t a vocal leader when I first came into the NFL,” Brown said. “I just kind of sat back, took notes, listened, and now, end up repeating what the guys were saying to me in my younger days.
Though Brown is the most veteran running back on the roster, he’s not taking anything for granted. Returning after the injury, he understands that he still needs to establish himself.
“I still feel like I got a lot to prove,” the 6-foot, 227-pounder said. “First, I just want to have a healthy season and then go out there and just be productive and help this team win games and championships. That’s what it’s all about.”