The New York Giants watched a gaggle of players limp from the field during their 41-34 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, key among them Ahmad Bradshaw (strained neck) and David Diehl (MCL), whose injury sounds like it will cost him a few games at there very least while Bradshaw is likely to miss at least Thursday night's matchup with Cam Newtown and the Carolina Panthers.
The old blessing in disguise may be a long running joke around Giants 101, but the Giants may have a chance for just that in Bradshaw and Diehl's replacements. No one is saying the Giants are better off without these guys – they're certainly light years better than the guys you'd sign off the street or practice squad to replace them – but things started clicking when Andre Brown and William Beatty entered the game against the Bucs. Which begs the question:
Are the backups capable of better production right now?
Brown sure looked on Sunday like he's ready to make that case: thirteen runs for 71 yards is good for 5.5 per carry. Add two catches for 19 yards and solid pass protection (don't underestimate that last one) and it quietly totals one of the better performances we've seen from a Giants running back, Bradshaw or otherwise, in a long time.
Lots of eyes are going to be on Brown and rookie David Wilson on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. The Giants have already started to change the face of their backfield with Brandon Jacobs and DJ Ware replaced by Wilson, Brown and second-year Da'Rel Scott…and every game Bradshaw sits out is another audition for these guys to show they are worthy of his job, with Brown currently on his second callback.
Just as the Giants running game didn't appear to miss Bradshaw much, neither did the offensive line miss David Diehl when he was replaced by Sean Locklear, with William Beatty moving to left tackle. Beatty had two false start penalties but otherwise held his own on an offensive line that finally got it together as the game wore on: they opened up running lanes for Andre Brown (see where we're going with this?) and allowed Eli to throw for 246 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
If Beatty, whose ownership of the left tackle job remains hampered only by injuries (back problems, these days), can stay healthy enough to be in the lineup every week and Locklear, now back at his natural right tackle position, remains playing at the high level he's shown so far things are looking up for an offensive line that's struggled.
It sounds like Bradshaw will be back sooner rather than later and while he probably won't lose his job, he might find himself splitting more of the workload with Brown than when he left. As for Diehl, he might be ticketed for that 6th lineman/3rd tight end role if and when he returns from the torn knee ligament.
And the Giants may be better off for it…
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