If the first week of training camp is an accurate precursor, Ahmad Bradshaw's foot and ankle problems have finally become history.
Bradshaw – jinx alert – has practiced every day, is running with his customary bulldog determination and is making precise and quick cuts.
"I feel great," Bradshaw said today at the University at Albany. "I can't complain."
It's been a while since Bradshaw could say that. In 2009, he played with cracked bones in both of his feet, as well as bone spurs in his ankle. Bradshaw practiced sporadically but missed only one game. He had surgery in the offseason but was still afflicted with pain in 2010. That didn't stop him from becoming a starter for the first time, playing in all 16 games and leading the Giants with 1,235 rushing yards. Last year, he missed four games with another foot issue but again topped the team with 659 yards – plus 272 more in the playoffs.
Bradshaw, who is entering his sixth season, has overcome the injuries to become the 10th-leading rusher in Giants history with 3,217 yards. He had another procedure done after Super Bowl XLVI and insists he now runs pain-free. If that continues, he will be able to practice regularly. That, in turn, should make him even more productive on game day.
"He'll be real sharp," coach Tom Coughlin said after watching Bradshaw zip through another practice. "Now obviously the opportunity for him to practice, he hasn't been able to do that for any number of years. I think it's going to make a big difference for him, if we can get through this period, and him being here every practice, focusing every practice, being able to go through some plays full speed."
Bradshaw is eager to test Coughlin's theory in the regular season.
"I'm so anxious to play," he said. "I can't wait to see how I can hold up. I think that with the way I feel now I can go all 16, 19, or however many (carries) come. I feel great. I can't explain how excited I am for this year."
"He's always been a competitive guy," Coughlin said. "I really enjoy that aspect of it. The games, the competition, the challenges, that type of thing. I think he's real good at converting that into, whether it's a practice or… I think it comes from the maturity level. He had a good spring, last spring. He's on the field now in the fall. Those are real strong elements that help a guy, more than just when he plays on game day."
With the offseason departure of Brandon Jacobs, Bradshaw has become the senior member of the running back corps. The group includes veterans D.J. Ware and Da'Rel Scott, as well as first-round draft choice David Wilson, whom Bradshaw is eager to mentor.
"I'm just trying to feed information to our rookie," Bradshaw said. "He's quicker than most. So you don't know when to stop him. You want to tell him to keep going because he's so fast. But all I can do is help in different situations. Your approach during the game and practice also, just trying to lengthen his career."
"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."
TRAINING CAMP NOTES
*Tackle Will Beatty and linebacker Jacquian Williams were notable additions to the list of players not practicing. "(Beatty's) back was bothering him," Coughlin said. A sore back kept Beatty out of minicamp in June. "He was kind of slowing down a little bit," Coughlin said. "So I think they're going to look at that." Sean Locklear played left tackle with the first team.
Williams has a hip injury that Coughlin suggested was minor. "He did step in something and then his hip is sore," Coughlin said. "They sent him in and they X-rayed him. I don't think there's anything to it, but they didn't let him go today."
- Linebackers Michael Boley (hamstring) and Jake Muasau (hamstring) and defensive end Justin Trattou (ankle) continue to sit out. Offensive lineman James Brewer and defensive lineman Martin Parker did not practice because of sore backs.
*Free agent safety Will Hill seemed to be flying around the entire practice and continues to impress the coaches.
"He's played well," Coughlin said. "We look forward to seeing him play and competing in the preseason games, on special teams and defensively."
Hill was undrafted out of Florida in 2011 and did not play football least year.
"Everybody has been a little impressed about my play right now," Hill said. "A lot of guys have been going down injured and things like that, so I've just been stepping up and playing my part.
"I have that mentality, because I wasn't drafted or anything like that. I have to prove myself to not only the coaches, but the players, that I belong here. That's how I go out every day and attack everything full on."
*The Giants ran the two-minute drill for the second day in a row, though this time David Carr was the quarterback. Yesterday, Eli Manning threw a long pass to Domenik Hixon and Coughlin said he hoped to see the offense run more plays. This drill was more methodical – and less successful. Ramses Barden was unable to hold onto a couple of passes and Carr's final attempt was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
"The execution wasn't…watch out what you ask for," Coughlin said. "It wasn't as good as I thought it… Well you know, it was the second group. It's all new to a lot of those guys."
*Attendance was 2,515.