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New York Giants' running back Andre Brown has gone from an NFL vagabond to a center of attention and key part of the team's offense during the past two weeks.
In Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season, New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw left the game early against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a neck injury, so the Giants turned to Andre Brown to fill his shoes. He finished an impressive day with 71 yards on 13 carries, a touchdown, and scored on a two point conversion.
But it was the following week against the Carolina Panthers where he had the breakout game of his career. With Bradshaw out, Brown carried the ball 20 times for 113 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Who was Brown before these two weeks?
If there's anyone that's had a short career with plenty of ups and downs, Brown is certainly the guy. He was drafted by the Giants in 2009 in the fourth round, but after a ruptured Achilles tendon he was waived the following year. Since then he had been cut five more times by the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, and the Giants a second time. It was the Achilles injury that he considered his low point.
"I think the low point would probably be me getting injured coming out of college my rookie year," said Brown to 790 The Ticket in Miami with The Dan LaBatard Show. "You really can't think that you can come back from an Achilles in six to eight months, but it took me almost like a year and a half to get back feeling like myself. I had a couple of low points, getting cut, then getting cut a second time, a third time, a fourth time."
Of all the teams that had cut him, Brown said it was the first cut by the Giants that was the worst. "They were the team that drafted me and that kind of hit home, but I'd really say it was a very humbling experience," said Brown. "To keep getting picked up by somebody else, a different team, it goes to say you have talent, but you just have to focus on it. Some of that stuff is overlooked and you can have all the talent in the world, but if you're not putting in hard work...you can be right out of it."
It seemed in the preseason that Brown was just trying to fight for a job yet again, but in the last few games he put on a impressive show to stay. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gildbride said if the injury to Bradshaw never happened, who knows what things would have been like for Brown.
"He got an opportunity that probably would not have occurred if it wasn't for the injury to Ahmad, but he did just what you pray as a coach that a guy will do when a chance presents itself. He's really changed the dynamic of our run game. He's definitely earned the right to get into the mix and he'll play some, it's just a matter of trying to get a feel for what plays certain guys run a little more effectively than others and you're always hoping that someone gets hot and you feed the hot hand."
Obviously Brown has received a lot of attention around the NFL and from fantasy owners for his performance against the Panthers. He finds the experience since the game a very humbling one.
"Doing Sportscenter, just being on NFL Network, and doing the Fan Cam. I just think, as far as the media-wise, I've never seen anything like it--the tabloids and everybody calling me," said Brown. "I have so many text messages and missed phone calls. My mailbox is full. I had 132 voice messages. It's crazy. I just still remain humble about it...my journey has been so crazy."
Bradshaw is returning to his starting role this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, but as Gilbride mentioned, both he and Brown will get their snaps. Brown knows that he just has to keep doing what he's doing and the opportunity will come.
"I'm just going to continue to play my role and whatever happens, happens," said Brown.
Follow Kelsey O'Donnell on Twitter @KelsODonnell