With the beating running backs take on a weekly basis, having a one-two punch in the backfield serves as a great benefit.
Entering Week 12, the New York Giants are one of only two NFL teams to have a pair of top-20 rushers. Brandon Jacobs ranks 13th in the league with 656 rushing yards, while Ahmad Bradshaw sits in 20th place with 549 yards on the ground.
In turn, stopping that Giants tandem ranks near the top of the Broncos’ defensive priority list.
“They’re an explosive team — how they lost four in a row, I have no idea,” Mario Haggan said. “But seeing how Brandon Jacobs runs the ball, they have a change-up back with Ahmad Bradshaw, you’ve got Eli (Manning) back there — they’re definitely a good team.”
When Jacobs has needed a breather this season, Bradshaw has been right there to spell him. The third-year back has recorded four rushing touchdowns in the Giants’ last six games.
While Jacobs has yet to record a 100-yard rushing game this season, Haggan said that stat does little to stop his big-play potential.
“He definitely sets the tone,” Haggan said. “A 100-yard rushing game is big for a team, but some people overrate that. I think the effectiveness of when he does touch the ball, what he can do with the number of times that he gets it is what makes that offense go.”
Jacobs’ successful touches stem from his superior size. Listed at 6-foot-4, 264 pounds, he stands as one of the more difficult backs to bring down.
Those raw physical gifts had Brian Dawkins label a defender’s ‘want to’ as the key to tackling Jacobs.
“To tackle this dude, it can’t be a second thought,” Dawkins said. “You have to have in your head and your heart that you want to tackle him before the game because once the game starts and you see him running downhill, that is not the time you want to make the decision.”
While Jacobs and Bradshaw have been available for the Giants from Week 1 through Week 11, NFL.com reported on Tuesday that both backs are battling injuries.
Bradshaw is wearing a boot on his left foot, while Jacobs also hurt his right leg against the Falcons. Head Coach Tom Coughlin told reporters that Jacobs was feeling good entering Tuesday’s activities.
On the Broncos side, after missing the team’s last three games with a toe injury, there is a chance Ryan Harris will suit up at right tackle for Thursday’s Thanksgiving contest.
“We’ll see,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. “We’re not declaring him out at all. (We’re) certainly not declaring him out.”
Another player far from declared out is Dawkins. After leaving Sunday’s game against the Chargers, the 14-year veteran said his neck was fine and that he planned to practice on Tuesday. He also hopes to be on the field for the Giants game.
“We’ll see,” Dawkins said. “That is the plan.”
A spectator during the team’s practices last week with an ankle injury, Kyle Orton is moving closer to a full recovery. Orton said on Tuesday that he plans to not be limited in any of the team’s activities leading up to Thursday.
McDaniels mirrored Orton’s thoughts, stating that the next 48 hours will most test the team’s mental readiness.
“(There is) not going to be a whole lot of tempo in terms of physical (work) today and tomorrow,” McDaniels said. “It’s a lot more mental today and the same thing with Wednesday. He should be able to do everything we’re doing. We expect him to be healthier on Thursday than he was last week.”
A full injury report will be revealed later this afternoon, along with a top story detailing more from Dove Valley. For now, here are some photos as the team took the field for Tuesday’s practice.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com