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Monday, October 22, 2012
What was up with Ahmad Bradshaw?

By Dan Graziano

There's a Dunkin Donuts on Route 17 South not far from MetLife Stadium, and for much of the New York Giants' 27-23 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw looked as though he'd stopped there on the way to the game and ordered a large coffee instead of a medium. Bradshaw was fired up, barking all day at opponents, teammates and coaches. And the fact that he didn't address the media after the game only fueled speculation that he was upset about something -- or possibly a few things.

Left to speculate, here's what I think:

Bradshaw hated that his foot injury last week became any kind of an issue. I remember speaking with him in training camp, and he believed the foot problems from the past couple of years were behind him. He believes he has the ability to be one of the elite backs in the league and was eager for a chance to prove it, unencumbered by the same old issues. So when Giants coach Tom Coughlin said last week that Bradshaw had missed Wednesday's practice due to "the same type of thing" he's had the past couple of years, I believe that irked Bradshaw. The next day, after practicing, Bradshaw said his foot had been stepped on during the 49ers game and that it was not a recurrence of the stress-fracture problem that cost him four games last year.

So I think it upset Bradshaw that this became a topic at all, and that he was listed as questionable on the injury report when he believed he was fine to go full-speed. And if he felt that the reason he wasn't getting more carries Sunday was the result of the coaching staff's concern about his foot, I have no trouble believing that the heated exchanges between him and Coughlin and between him and running backs coach Jerald Ingram had something to do with Bradshaw's belief and insistence that he could do more. After carrying the ball a career-high 30 times two weeks earlier against Cleveland and 27 last week in San Francisco, Bradshaw got only 12 carries against the Redskins. The Giants only ran the ball 19 times, total, in the game, against 40 passes. Bradshaw's not a selfish player, and he takes great pride in his work in pass protection, but he likely believes the Giants' offense works better when it's more balanced. There's a decent amount of evidence to support that thesis.

Coughlin said after the game that whatever passed between him and Bradshaw would remain just that, and it's possible we'll never know for sure. Bradshaw's animated exchange with wide receiver Victor Cruz seemed to result from Cruz's failure to finish off a block that might have sprung Bradshaw for more yards. Again, Bradshaw did not stop to explain himself. But I think it's fair to assume that he believes he can be a larger part of what the Giants' offense is doing than he was Sunday, and that he's aggravated that something like an inaccurate conclusion about the health of his foot would have prompted the coaching staff to cut back his workload.

I don't know if that's what happened, but regardless, it's possible that was Bradshaw's perception of what happened. And if it was, that probably explains why he was so agitated all day.