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Spotlight: Ahmad Bradshaw

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As far as many New York Giants' fans are concerned, the sight shown in the photo at right -- Ahmad Bradshaw with the football in his hands -- is one they have not seen nearly enough of in Bradshaw's first two seasons.

Odds are that is not going to be a problem in 2009. Even with Danny Ware and fourth-round draft pick Andre Brown competing for playing time, Bradshaw is the guy who will likely get most of the carries vacated by Derrick Ward's departure to Tampa Bay.

The 5-foot-9, 198-pound Bradshaw, a third-year player, has captured the imagination of Giants' fans almost since the first time they saw him touch the ball.

There is no doubt Bradshaw is exciting with the ball in his hands. He's quick, elusive, tough to tackle despite his size and has shown big-play capability in his limited opportunities.

He teased Giants' fans with a 17-carry, 151-yard performance against Buffalo in 2007. Included in that was a spectacular 88-yard touchdown run, which remains the signature play of his young career.

Since then, Giants fans have been clamoring for more. Occasionally, some will even claim that Bradshaw, not Jacobs, should be the Giants' featured running back.

Yet, despite his potential Bradshaw mostly watched last season as Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward each surpassed 1,000 yards rushing.

Bradshaw carried the ball just 67 times for 355 yards. Yes, he was effective. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry, and busted a 77-yard run against the Baltimore Ravens. In 90 career rushes, he has 545 yards (6.1 yards per carry).

A great majority of Bradshaw's work, however, has come late in games. It can be argued that he has been successful largely because the heavy lifting had already been done by Jacobs and Ward, wearing out and demoralizing defenses who didn't have the legs or the spirit to chase Bradshaw by the time he got into games.

The question will be whether or not Bradshaw can be similarly effective handling 12-15 carries each week rather than five or six.

Newsday's Bob Glauber thinks Bradshaw is headed for a big season.

There have been whispers that third-year tailback Ahmad Bradshaw hasn't been putting in the necessary work during the offseason. Could have fooled me. The kid looked faster than he did as a rookie, and his cutting ability and nose for finding a crease in the blocking is uncanny. I'll predict it right now: breakout season for Bradshaw.

There were times last season when Bradshaw did not look quite as explosive as he had as a rookie in 2007. Let's hope Glauber is right about the '09 version of Bradshaw.

As good as Jacobs is, we know he needs help during a 16-game regular season. It would thrill Giants' fans if that help comes consistently from Bradshaw.