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Giants' Bradshaw out Sunday; Ware replaces him

DENVER - Ahmad Bradshaw's status for tonight's game in Denver has gone from "we'll see" to "see you when we get back." The running back who has played through a sore ankle and cracked bone on his right foot has been ruled out of the game against the Broncos, mostly due to a sprained left ankle suffered Monday against Washington.

Bradshaw did not travel with the team Friday afternoon. The Giants revealed the injury Tuesday and Bradshaw was in a protective boot and on crutches, so his chances of playing in the game were slim anyway. Wednesday, before the team's flight, the Giants officially declared him as inactive.

Danny Ware, the third-string running back who played mostly on third-down situations against the Falcons, will move up the depth chart and is expected to take Bradshaw's share of the carries behind Brandon Jacobs (who will play but is also coming off a game in which he injured his knee and did not return). The Giants also will likely activate rookie Gartrell Johnson, who took the place of Ware earlier this year when Ware was sidelined with a dislocated elbow after the season opener.

Bradshaw isn't the only important player the Giants will be missing in the game, or in their travels to Denver. Linebacker Antonio Pierce, who was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck on Friday, already had been declared out for tonight's game. But Wednesday he was in California getting a second opinion on the diagnosis and course of treatment from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins.

After Sunday's game against the Falcons, which he watched from the sideline, Pierce said he felt healthy enough to play and had been playing with the injury for weeks. A second opinion could possibly clear the path for Pierce to return sooner than most believed (about six weeks) or force him into season-ending surgery. Right now the Giants are treating the bulging disc and monitoring it, hoping it heals on its own with rest.

No matter how the visit to California turns out, Pierce will not play Thursday. He could, however, show up on the sideline for the game. Injured players usually do not travel to road games with the team, but Tom Coughlin and other players made it clear they value the impact Pierce had even without wearing a uniform on Sunday.

Chase Blackburn was the immediate choice to fill in for Antonio Pierce on short notice last week, and he likely will start there this week, too. But the Giants see second-year player Jonathan Goff as their middle linebacker of the future. That future might begin this week.

"He's coming along," said Coughlin, who has praised Goff's special-teams play in the past. "He'll have an opportunity to play at the middle backer position, I'm sure. He'll get the practice reps now, too, which is a good thing."

The only Giant besides Bradshaw and Pierce on the team's injury report is Eli Manning, who is listed as probable with a foot injury.

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