Ahmad Bradshaw has 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.
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 eventually by this sleek-footed, flashy new model. Instead he embraced his role as a veteran just the same way Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward did for him when he first came into the league.
Of course he came in as a seventh-round pick, so the threat level wasn’t as high in 2007. 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 he could get hurt. Today, for example, he tried to stop to avoid Shaun Rogers – yes, the 3705-pound Shaun Rogers -- on a run up the middle and got bent over backwards. 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.
“Coming in, I had Brandon and Derrick Ward, who also taught me the same things,” Bradshaw continued. “I’m just trying to feed that information to our rookie. Like I said, he’s quicker than most, so you don’t know when to stop him and you don’t know when to tell him to keep going. He’s so fast, but all I can do is just help him in different situations. You approach him during the game and in practice also, just trying to lengthen his career.”
“When I was young, I came in and I was spinning a lot, doing a lot of different things that he does. 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 like he can go the distance this season. He hasn’t missed a practice yet, which is a very good sign.
“I’m so anxious to play,” he 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.”
Tom Coughlin said he hasn’t noticed that Bradshaw has taken Wilson under his wing, so to speak. They are, afterall, competing for carries, if not this year than certainly next year. And soon they’ll be competing for contracts. Remember how the Giants had to decide between Jacobs and Ward a few years ago when both ran for 1,000 yards?
For now, though, Bradshaw is happy to impart a little wisdom whenever he can.
“I’m sure he’s advising, and they’re in the meetings together all day long,” Coughlin said. “So, there isn’t any question that he’s helping. I think if David’s smart, he’ll take a little bit more of that.”
Does Bradshaw see himself as a mentor now?
“You know what: I’m more of a leader,” he said. “Put it like that.”