Ahmad Bradshaw hopes to step up

ALBANY, N.Y. -- For many veterans, going through two practices a day during training camp is the worst part of football.

Ahmad Bradshaw, though, is thrilled to be practicing twice a day. After pain in his feet and ankle kept him from practicing last year, the running back feels like a new man following offseason surgeries.

And not only is Bradshaw practicing more, but his workload appears to be increasing as well. Bradshaw has received the first carry over Brandon Jacobs in the first week of the New York Giants' camp.

Jacobs is returning from offseason surgery on his knee but he looks fast, agile and anything but limited when he gets carries. Head coach Tom Coughlin warned reporters not to read between the lines and assume that Bradshaw has moved ahead of Jacobs on the depth chart.

"See, you guys are all hung up on that stuff," said Coughlin, who gave his team Sunday off. "All I want are healthy bodies and depth. They'll all be utilized and as you know, there are a lot of games to play."

Still, it appears as if Bradshaw is getting more carries than Jacobs. The Giants could be keeping Jacobs fresh since the monstrous 6-foot-4, 264-pound running back takes a pounding during the season.

Bradshaw, though, said he is ready for a bigger role.

"It just comes that way," he said of getting the first handoff. "I'm expecting a lot more from the offense and I'm expecting to help out a lot."

Even though the running game is coming off a disappointing season, the 5-9 back still posted a career-high 778 yards and seven touchdowns in '09 despite running with cracked bones in his feet and bone spurs in his ankle.

He had the Giants' only two 100-yard rushing games last season with 104 yards against Tampa Bay and 110 yards against the Raiders.

Jacobs started 15 games in '09 but was hampered by a knee injury. He finished with 835 yards rushing, snapping the team's seven-year streak of having a 1,000-yard rusher.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been searching for answers as to what went wrong with the offensive line and the running game this past season. He was asked specifically if Jacobs' knee was the explanation for the team's inability to run.

"I don't know, we don't know," Gilbride said. "[Jacobs] wasn't as effective, so I'm going to say it's his knee. That's the only way I can try to begin to explain it, but with anything it's never just one thing. Maybe we didn't block some things so well, maybe he didn't make some good decisions quite as often, maybe I didn't call the plays at the right times.

"Who knows? We somehow have to get him through the holes fast enough so he can take advantage of that. And that's something we're hoping to see."

Both Jacobs and Bradshaw are looking quick in camp thus far. Bradshaw, who said his bow-legged and heavy-cutting running style likely contributed to his injuries, is happy to be running without pain.

"I feel good out there," Bradshaw said. "If anything, it hurts when I get off the field. It's just a little sore [afterward]. I feel 100 percent compared to last year. I'm still running the same and I feel good. Practicing twice a day will keep my feet back under me."

The Giants' running backs are eager to prove to people that last season was an aberration. And that won't change no matter who gets the first carry.

"Me and Brandon are roommates," Bradshaw said. "And we talk everyday about how hungry we are and how excited we are."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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