- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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I promised you guys more from my time at New York Giants training camp, and I keep my promises. I'm going to keep going through my notes and rolling out posts that I think are interesting, based on the interviews I did while there. As long as Camp Confidential was, not everything fit in there. So while I was at Redskins training camp the past two days and I'm at Eagles today and tomorrow, you're still going to get some of my Giants reporting from late last week. Enjoy.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was enjoying our conversation. Standing in the rain following the Giants' training camp practice Saturday afternoon, Bradshaw was singing the praises of the offseason stem-cell treatments that have his feet feeling better than they have in years and expressing his excitement over his status as the unquestioned No. 1 running back on the team. But when I asked him about the work he does in pass blocking and blitz pickup, that's when his eyes really lit up.
"I love it, and I've loved it forever," Bradshaw said. "In high school, I played safety, so I love the contact. If we throw an interception, I'm the fastest guy on the field trying to make that tackle. I just love that contact. And I think that helps when I'm pass-protecting and I'm able to give my quarterback a little more time. It's something that I take pride in."
It's an underrated aspect of one of the Giants' more underrated players. Bradshaw's chronic foot problems, his pseudo-timeshare with Brandon Jacobs and the disappointing run-blocking performance of the Giants' offensive line in 2012 have dropped Bradshaw out of the conversation when it comes to the league's top running backs. But he believes he has that kind of ability, and the Giants are hoping this is the year he can show it for 16 games.
"That's my goal," he said. "Hopefully we play a little longer, but that's the goal, to be able to play a whole season. I haven't been able to do that since I started. And to be able to have this opportunity right now and feel great and feel like I can go out and play all 16 now, it's a blessing. It's a blessing to be here, a blessing not to be in any pain, not only as a running back but also in the offseason, just being able to walk around and not be in any pain."
Bradshaw says it was a "freak accident" that he fractured the same foot bone last year that he'd fractured previously, but he got the stem-cell treatments because he was sick of having to manage the constant pain and discomfort in his feet. He obviously seems refreshed, and like everyone involved in the Giants' running game he's eager to improve on last year's No. 32 regular-season ranking. But I think it's important to note that a healthy Bradshaw would be a huge help to the Giants' passing game as well. They like to use him as a receiver in the screen game, and we've already talked about what he brings as a blocker.
"Having him, a guy who knows protections, who's tough, who catches the ball and makes plays, the more times you get him touches on the football, the more big plays you're going to have in the game," Giants quarterback Eli Manning told me. "So having him healthy should be big. You saw a little burst (last week) in practice on a few runs, just him getting into the secondary and hitting that second gear. We hadn't seen that in a while, so that's kind of exciting for us."
As you look at areas in which the Giants can improve on their 9-7 regular-season performance from last year, don't underestimate what a healthy Bradshaw could mean. The Bradshaw who contributed to their Super Bowl run was a tough guy playing through pain and not 100 percent. If he is 100 percent, he believes he has a lot more he can show.
I promised you guys more from my time at New York Giants training camp, and I keep my promises. I'm going to keep going through my notes and rolling out posts that I think are interesting, based on the interviews I did while there.