D.J. Ware of the New York Giants stiff arms Kevin Burnett of the Miami Dolphins during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 30, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
So, what does the cracked bone in Ahmad Bradshaw's foot mean for the New York Giants? Well, the immediate thing that leaps to mind is that unhappy running back Brandon Jacobs will now be called upon to fulfill his vow to "stand tall" for his team for however long Bradshaw is out -- a period of time that varies depending on who you pay attention to. Reports vary from two weeks to the remainder of the season if he has surgery.
Let's look a little deeper at what Bradshaw means to the Giants' offense, and how they could potentially go about replacing him.
Bradshaw is, of course, the Giants' No. 1 running back. He ascended to that throne a season ago, gained 1.235 yards rushing and caught a career-best 47 passes for another 314 yards. At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds he a much different back than Jacobs -- a powerful runner certainly, but also a game-breaking type player who can make defenders miss.
Bradshaw's receiving has become increasingly important to the Giants, as the 47 catches last season and 24 in seven games this season show.
The running and receiving are difficult enough to replace. There is one other element to Bradshaw's game, though, that has helped Eli Manning immensely. Bradshaw is a fabulous pass blocker, identifying blitzers and more often than not stonewalling them despite giving away 50 pounds or more.
The Giants have three other running backs on the 53-man roster -- Jacobs, D.J. Ware and Da'Rel Scott. Let's look at how each could be asked to step up in Bradshaw's absence.
Jacobs has been unhappy with his reduced role and much of that boiled over this week when he vented his frustration. After calming down, though, the 29-year-old Jacobs said "You're going to see a change."
That change had better happen quickly for Jacobs, who has just 126 yards on 42 carries (3.0 yards per attempt) so far this season. Only once this season has Jacobs carried the ball at least 10 times in a game (16 vs. St. Louis in Week 2 when he gained a season-high 50 yards).
In the short term, the Giants seem likely to give Jacobs a full-fledged opportunity to back up his words. It makes sense -- he has been their go-to guy in the past, and if he is healthy he will likely be given an opportunity to handle the bulk of the carries again.
Jacobs, though, is not the pass receiver that Bradshaw is. He has just 70 catches in his seven-year career.
Ware figures to get an increased role, starting with the pass-receiving responsibilities. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Ware has been a Giant since 2007, and it seems like the Giants have been waiting years now for him to step up and become a playmaker in their offense. Ware is still only 25, however, and if he is ever going to become a truly important player for the Giants that opportunity begins Sunday.
Ware is a big back at 225 pounds, is faster than Jacobs and has better hands. Without Bradshaw, the Giants likely give Ware the biggest chance of his career if their running game struggles with Jacobs leading the way.
As for Scott, the Giants have been talking recently about finding ways to integrate the speedy rookie seventh-round pick from Maryland into their offense. Mostly, they have been talking about getting the ball to him as a receiver, an opportunity that may now be there.
Regardless, the Giants will do what they have done so many times already this season. Simply turn to the next players in line, say "you're up" and expect them to perform.
We just have to see if they can.