The Herald Bulletin

June 11, 2013

Bradshaw ready to run with Colts

By George Bremer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Ahmad Bradshaw's most famous run in Indianapolis ended with a bit of hesitation.

It's fitting, therefore, that the veteran running back endured a prolonged pause before choosing to call the city home.

After six seasons with the New York Giants, that included two Super Bowl championships, Bradshaw signed a one-year deal Tuesday to join the Indianapolis Colts.

"Any time you can add a guy that's got Super Bowl rings and understands what it takes, has that mindset, put another pro in that locker room, another mentor," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "I mean, the guy's a beast. He's a warrior. I was at Baltimore and we played him, I don't know how many years ago, and I just saw him gut through our defense for a 77-yard run. And that doesn't happen very often to a Ravens front seven and that defense."

Another run likely comes to mind when local fans hear Bradshaw's name.

It was his 6-yard touchdown run that clinched the Giants' 21-17 victory against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. But it was no average 6-yard touchdown run.

With just one timeout remaining and the minutes dwindling away in the fourth quarter, the Patriots wanted Bradshaw to score. They provided very little resistance after the running back took the handoff from quarterback Eli Manning, and Bradshaw thought better of crossing the goal line just as he neared it.

He stopped at the one-yard line and turned his body around. But as he tried to slow his momentum and stay out of the end zone — a field goal likely would have given the Giants the lead with less than 20 seconds left, limiting New England's comeback chances — he fell backwards for the score.

All ended well for New York when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's Hail Mary from midfield fell harmlessly to the turf as time expired.

Bradshaw experienced a similarly happy ending Tuesday when his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, finally reached an agreement with the Colts after negotiations that began Thursday.

It means the 27-year-old running back now will be calling the site of his most recent Super Bowl triumph his home.

"It's a great place," Bradshaw said during a conference call at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "It's a great atmosphere. Being inside and out of that facility should be fun."

The past few months have been anything but for Bradshaw.

He had surgery to repair a nagging foot injury in January and was released by the Giants to clear cap space in February. Nobody made a serious run for his services as a free agent until the Pittsburgh Steelers began kicking the tires in late March and early April.

The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins were among other teams connected to the running back by rumors before and during the Colts' full-out pursuit.

Bradshaw had resumed rehab in Miami when he got the call he'd been signed by the Colts. He's expected to arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday, but he might not take to the practice field before mini-camp ends on Thursday.

Pagano said the Colts will "err on the side of caution" in an attempt to make sure Bradshaw is completely healthy for training camp in late July.

The running back himself said that won't be a problem. His body feels younger after surgery, and he's ready to compete for playing time with Indianapolis' returning stable of Vick Ballard, Donald Brown and Delone Carter.

Pagano was mum on Bradshaw's expected role, but the veteran sees himself as a three-down back.

"I've always considered that, and I guess we'll let the coach and the coaching staff decide that factor," Bradshaw said. "With me, I feel that I can touch the ball every down and be effective."

He's also one of the league's best running backs in pass protection. The advanced stats website Pro Football Focus rated Bradshaw as the league's No. 1 blocking back in 2012, and he's never finished lower than third during his NFL career.

That doesn't mean he can't be just as productive with the ball in his hand.

Despite being limited to 14 games and 12 starts by the foot injury, Bradshaw gained 1,105 yards on 221 carries and scored six touchdowns last year. All three numbers would have been team highs for the Colts.

"Like we always say, iron sharpens iron like man sharpens man," Pagano said. "Every acquisition that we've made, either through free agency, the draft, you name it, we just try to create competition at every position. So the guys that we have, they won't flinch because they've got great character. They got the right mindset. They're great competitors. They're horseshoe guys. This guy, he's another horseshoe guy. Get us one step closer to hoisting that trophy."

Bradshaw knows what it's like to celebrate a championship in Indianapolis. Now he'd like to see what it feels like to celebrate a championship with Indianapolis.

"Any team that gets to the playoffs has a chance," Bradshaw said. "With these guys being young, with Andrew Luck growing every year, last year coming in the league and proving what he can do, I think this team has great potential to be a contender. That's also a big reason why Indiana was my choice."