By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Ahmad Bradshaw sounds like a man itching to get off the sideline.
The Indianapolis Colts have brought the sixth-year running back along slowly since signing him in June after an offseason in which he underwent foot surgery and was cut by the New York Giants for salary cap relief.
Bradshaw spent four months in the NFL's unemployment line before landing a job with the Colts. And he hasn't forgotten about the teams that weighed their options and determined they could move on without him.
"A lot of teams that could have accepted me and gave me a shot that didn't, I want to just prove everybody wrong," he said. "I've got this chip on my shoulder, coming in a seventh-round running back in 2007. I play like it's my first year."
Bradshaw became expendable in New York because of a running back who was in his first year, David Wilson. The former Virginia Tech star's emergence allowed the Giants to feel comfortable about releasing a player who had helped bring the franchise two Super Bowl rings.
But the split was amicable. New York even celebrated Bradshaw's career with a video tribute when the Colts visited MetLife Stadium in Week 2 of the preseason.
Indianapolis covets his experience, as well as the blocking ability and veteran leadership that comes with it.
"We know Ahmad is going to be a great addition," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "He's tough as nails."
But what role will Bradshaw play in new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's scheme?
He was held out of most of training camp and all four of the preseason games. So nobody outside of his coaches and teammates has seen him line up in this offense.
Head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed the running back will play in Sunday's regular-season opener against the Oakland Raiders. But he declined to give many specifics beyond that.
"There's probably a certain amount of plays we'd like to get him," Pagano said. "What that is, I don't know. Again, he was out there and running around and looked pretty good (in Monday's practice)."
Bradshaw later said he was taking reps with the second team. That likely means second-year running back Vick Ballard will start against the Raiders.
But both players are likely to see significant playing time, regardless of who takes the field first.
That system should be familiar to Bradshaw. He was part of a tandem in New York first with Brandon Jacobs and later with Wilson.
During training camp, he said he has no problem helping to mentor Ballard along the way. And on Monday he said he's not concerned about when he'll enter the game.
"Just like I said, I love this game and I'm going to give my 100 percent every time and every Sunday," Bradshaw said. "Like I said, I don't know how the plays are going to go and who's going to get how many, but when I'm out there you can expect full speed."
The numbers back that up.
Bradshaw rushed for 4,232 yards and 32 touchdowns with the Giants. He had a career-high 1,235 yards in 2010 and scored a career-high nine touchdowns in 2011. Last season, he ran for 1,015 yards and six scores.
But he played in all 16 games just once with New York, and there have been questions about his durability. Bradshaw dismisses those doubts.
He fought hard to prove himself after being drafted out of Marshall, and he's prepared to do it all over again.
"How many games have I played hurt?" he asked. "So I guess you can look back at it a couple of different ways, but like I say, I'm healthy and this training staff has done a great job of getting me prepared and getting me confident on my foot. I'm going to be ready to go and prove the doubters wrong."