Ahmad Bradshaw: How RB's Return Could Disrupt the Giants' Offensive Flow

Jessica Marie@ItsMsJisnerCorrespondent IISeptember 25, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 05:  running back Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2012 NFL season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 5, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

It's hard to be all that upset when you hear the news that your starting running back is ready to return from an injury—unless the guy who has taken his place has been the offense's primary catalyst over the last couple of weeks.

Such is the case facing the Giants, now that Ahmad Bradshaw has been cleared to practice after injuring his neck in Week 2 against the Buccaneers, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk.

A source told Youngmisuk that Bradshaw is OK to practice, after Bradshaw tweeted the following on Monday:


Great news! Thanks everyone for ur thoughts and prayers.But u dnt understand,I'm Ready to rock #bigblue #health

— Ahmad Bradshaw (@AhmadBradshaw) September 24, 2012


Extra depth is never a bad thing, especially when that extra depth is coming in the form of the guy who was supposed to be the starter in the first place.

Or is it?

In the case of the Giants, this is tricky because ever since Bradshaw went down in the first half of a Week 2 win over the Bucs, Andre Brown has been stellar. Brown was responsible for the game-tying two-point conversion against Tampa Bay as well as the game-winning touchdown.

Four days later, in his first start against the Panthers, he came up huge with 113 yards on the ground, 17 in the air and two touchdowns.

Youngmisuk reports that Bradshaw is expected to start when he returns—a no-brainer—but where does that leave Brown? He's proven that when he's saddled with a heavy workload, he can produce. At the risk of sounding dramatic, he's even proven that he can save the game.

When given the opportunity, Brown has proven—in a small sample size—that he is capable of being the No. 1 guy. The job may be Bradshaw's, but it has been Brown who has re-energized this Giants offense over the last two weeks. It has been Brown who has provided a crucial spark for a New York team that looked like one big flop in Week 1 against the Cowboys.

On top of the fact that Brown has generated some serious momentum and it could be dangerous to disrupt it, it's unclear how productive Bradshaw is going to be upon returning. He could be at 100 percent (unlikely), or he could be hindered by the aftermath of his injury.

There's also the fact that the Giants can't really afford to lose Sunday night's game. The Eagles have looked up and down over the first few weeks of 2012, but when the end of the season comes, it's likely that these two teams will be the ones fighting for the NFC East crown, or for a Wild Card playoff berth. 

A win over Philly is crucial, and in order to get it, this offense is going to have to be at its best. But is Brown or Bradshaw the best? And if Bradshaw struggles, could it cost the Giants the game? 

This leaves the Giants with one running back who's proven to be a huge boon over the past two weeks and another injury-riddled first-stringer who suddenly finds himself fighting to prove himself as the No. 1 guy.

It's not exactly a Brady-Bledsoe type of situation, and it may be a problem that many a coach would love to have, but it's tricky for Tom Coughlin and his staff.

One way or another, though—whether the Giants offense struggles in Week 4 under Bradshaw or whether it thrives—we'll know a lot more about which solution will be the one that works.