Bradshaw has been out since suffering an inflamed disc in the second quarter of the Week 2 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his absence, Andre Brown seemed to ignite the running game, rushing for 184 yards on 33 carries, forcing his way into getting more carries moving forward.
The Giants are no strangers to sharing carries. Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward both rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2008 with Bradshaw also squeezing in 355 yards on the ground. Granted, the Giants don’t run the ball as much as they did in 2008, but they can still use two running backs effectively.
The offense now runs through Eli Manning’s arm, but having a tandem of Bradshaw and Brown will allow the running game to stay fresh. This will be good for Bradshaw, who has played only one full season since coming into the NFL in 2007.
Ultimately, the Giants will run the ball 25-30 times on Sunday night against the Eagles unless the game gets out of control one way or another. This would mean 10-15 carries for Brown, which should be enough to keep him effective while keeping Bradshaw fresh.
The loser in all of this is David Wilson, but he allowed the number two running back spot to literally fall through his grasp with his inability to hold onto the ball and his failure to be effective in pass protection. Right now, Wilson will have to shine in the return game to make an impact on this team while Da’Rel Scott also contributes on special teams.
The Giants, and many fantasy owners, would love to see Wilson suddenly burst onto the scene, but that is unlikely now unless Brown or Bradshaw misses significant time. This might be a blessing in disguise for Wilson, who can now focus on the elements of his game that need the most work. He might still get on the field for 3-6 plays per game, but unless he breaks a long run for a touchdown, he won’t have much of an impact.
Tom Coughlin might decide to go with the hot-hand approach to his running game. If Bradshaw struggles early and Brown seems to be moving the ball, he will go with Brown until he feels Brown is no longer being effective. He has done it in the past and has seen success from that approach in the past.
Ultimately, I think how many carries Brown and Bradshaw get will depend on how well they run the ball. Coughlin will start Bradshaw, but he won’t be afraid to make Brown the main focus of the running attack if he feels Bradshaw is struggling.