Ahmad Bradshaw wanted bigger role

Updated: October 22, 2012, 5:26 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw said his heated exchange with coach Tom Coughlin during Sunday's victory over the Washington Redskins was a plea to run the ball more.

Bradshaw was even more emotional than usual during the game, at one point also strongly slapping teammate Victor Cruz on the back of the helmet. All of this took place in the third quarter of New York's 27-23 win.

Bradshaw and Coughlin shouted at each other as the Giants' offense was going back on the field at the end of the third quarter.

"I was just saying, 'Run the ball,' going onto the field," Bradshaw said of his exchange with Coughlin. "A lot of my emotions kicking in. I just want to help my team win as much as possible."

Coughlin said he has addressed the issue with his running back.

"There's never been any question about Ahmad Bradshaw's toughness, his intensity level," Coughlin said. "He plays the game hard. You know, you like to have everybody play as hard as he does. He gives it everything he's got.

"And so, you want people to recognize that fact, but sometimes you do have to control yourself and control your emotions. And he's working on it."

Coughlin was asked several questions about the Bradshaw incident during his Monday news conference, and the head coach was ready to move on.

"Is that the only question that we're going to have today, is about Ahmad saying, 'Good morning, Coach,' to me?" Coughlin said.

Bradshaw got frustrated when he broke a run for 15 yards with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter on a second-and-9 from the Giants' 40. Bradshaw rushed to his left and was tackled by Redskins safety Madieu Williams and cornerback Cedric Griffin.

Bradshaw then gave a forceful slap to the back of Cruz's helmet, which startled the receiver. It appeared Bradshaw was unhappy with Cruz, who was supposed to block Williams.

"Yeah, it didn't tickle, to say the least," Cruz said when asked about Bradshaw's not-so-subtle tap on the helmet. "But it's all fine. He just wants the best out of everyone. On that specific play, he felt like I could've done more. I agree with him, and we hugged it out later on."

Cruz was asked whether he did miss the block.

"In his eyes, I guess I did," Cruz said.

"We are all just trying to get better," Bradshaw said. "I am trying to make each other better."

The two were later seen on the field with their arms around each other.

"We've all got to hold ourselves accountable," Cruz said. "Ahmad's a great person. He's a great running back for us. It's just a matter of getting up and fighting for that next play."

Bradshaw has always played with emotion, but this season he is trying to replace Brandon Jacobs as the team's emotional spark and leader. Teammates often credit Bradshaw with having the biggest heart on the team and feeding off his hard and angry runs.

"He's like that in the locker room," tight end Martellus Bennett said of Bradshaw being emotional. "He's like that in lunch. He's like that in breakfast. He's like that in dinner. He's like that in the shower. He's like that in the steam room. He's like that in the training room. He's like that, if you're riding in your car, you've got to turn your music up really loud.

"Ahmad's just an intense person. He's a leader. Everybody leads differently. We have a lot of leaders in here. He's not Obama, but he's a leader."

Bradshaw played on 48 of the 63 offensive snaps Sunday (76 percent). But he had only a total of 16 touches on those 48 snaps. He received just 12 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown, as the Giants ran the ball 19 times for 64 yards against Washington.

Bradshaw was targeted five times and hauled in four receptions for 22 yards. Andre Brown, back from a concussion, had five carries but did receive some goal-line carries, scoring on a 1-yard TD run.

Bradshaw was coming off a two-game stretch in which he rushed for a total of 316 yards. He carried the ball 30 times for a career-high 200 yards and a touchdown while catching four passes for 29 yards against Cleveland. He also had 27 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown, and one catch for 4 yards against San Francisco.

Bradshaw said he always wants to get his teammates and the offensive line motivated during the game.

"I try to take a place in our offense and be the emotional leader," Bradshaw said of trying to replace Jacobs as a vocal leader. "And I feel to help and motivate our line, to go out and be motivated for a certain job, I feel like speaking up helps."

Bennett said Bradshaw had given him the same type of pat that Cruz received during the game.

"He grabs me all the time," Bennett said. "He's really a touchy-feely guy. With boxer hands. He's a heavy-handed kid.

"He's real. Ahmad is Ahmad. I guess if Ahmad was an adjective, other people would be like, 'I'm Ahmad-ing it.' He's just a great guy, he's like that all the time."

Cruz was asked whether he would give Bradshaw the same type of slap to the helmet.

"After yesterday?" Cruz asked with a smile. "Most definitely -- yes."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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