Mathias Kiwanuka was a teammate of Ahmad Bradshaw's for six seasons, and he often spoke about the running back's toughness and junkyard dog mentality. On Monday night, he'll be tasked with stopping it instead of admiring it. Which, he said, is fine with him.
"I know how to approach it, too," Kiwanuka said of the key to tackling the former Giant now in his second season with the Colts. "You've got to keep your eyes on him until the very last second because he will move, he will shift. Don't watch his head because that will get you in trouble. You've got to stay low and once you get his legs, you have to drive yours because he's got power below."
Bradshaw is having a bit of a renaissance to a career that seemed to have ended with a neck injury and chronic foot troubles that hampered him throughout his tenure with the Giants. He leads the Colts in rushing with 371 yards on 76 carries, including two touchdowns, and has caught 31 passes for 264 yards and six touchdowns. He had three receiving touchdowns in his career with the Giants and never caught more than 47 passes in a season.
He also is facing a team that cut him loose in a stadium he once called home. Bradshaw's 18 touchdowns at MetLife Stadium are the most of any player.
"Oh yeah," Kiwanuka said with exaggeration when asked if he thinks Bradshaw will be motivated to face the Giants. "We know that. We're no stranger to players coming back here. It's part of the business, it's part of the league. He'll be fired up and ready to go but we're ready for anybody."
Kiwanuka said the same toughness that defined Bradshaw's career with the Giants still defines him now.
Television broadcasts often have zoomed in for close-ups of the scar on his throat where doctors made the incision to surgically repair his neck and fuse two vertebrae, the same procedure Peyton Manning had. Of course, Manning is hardly ever asked to run headfirst into a ton of defensive players. Bradshaw does that on practically every carry.
"I saw a couple games live and they're talking about his injury and coming back and the way he's running without any fear or with complete disregard for the fact that he had issues," Kiwanuka said. "It makes me respect him even more."
Kiwanuka said he never thought Bradshaw's career was over. "I never think anybody's done until they say that they're done and he never said that once," he said. "I saw him out a couple times and he was optimistic, so I was just hoping for the best."
He continues to. Until Monday night.
"Yeah, he's a former teammate," Kiwanuka said. "I wish him the best every week except this week. You never wish an injury on anybody, but if we can hold him to the worst outing of his year, that will be good for us."