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Brandon Jacobs starts run at Giants halfback in post-Tiki era

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -Brandon Jacobs got off to a fast start in his first training camp as the New York Giants' No. 1 running back in place of the retired Tiki Barber.

Too fast, in fact.

With tears in his eyes after saying goodbye to his 5-month-old son, Brayden, Jacobs hit the gas a little too hard on Route 17 in New Jersey and got pulled over.

The police officer ran Jacobs' license plate and knew exactly who he was going to be talking to as he approached the car.

Waiting, Jacobs hoped to get off with a warning.

"He didn't even give me that," Jacobs said. "He said: 'You better run the ball this year."'

Jacobs got the message and left without a ticket.

The harder part will be replacing Barber, who retired at the age of 31 with eight individual team rushing records.

"I'm not here to be Tiki," Jacobs said Sunday between practices at the University at Albany. "I'm here to be me."

He's different in many ways. Barber was a durable 5-foot-10 back with a tremendous ability to read a play and cut back in his 10 seasons with the Giants.

Jacobs is a monster at 6-foot-4 and more than 260 pounds.

Teammate Antonio Pierce, a 6-foot-1, 238-pound Pro Bowl middle linebacker, said watching Jacobs come through the line is akin to seeing an offensive lineman bearing down on you.

It's not just that Jacobs is big.

"But he is fast and he has a nasty attitude," Pierce said. "You talk about guys having a defensive mentality, but this guy truly has a nasty mentality. He looks to hurt people."

Jacobs didn't get much of an opportunity to run as a rookie in 2005. The fourth-round pick from Southern Illinois via Auburn gained 99 yards on 38 carries as Barber led New York to the NFC East title.

Jacobs not only developed into the Giants' short-yardage specialist last year, he also showed flashes that labeled him a future No. 1 back. He carried 96 times for 423 yards, a 4.4-yard average, which is good in anyone's book. His nine rushing touchdowns and 11 receptions for a 13.5-yard average also showed he was ready to carry the load.

If there is any question about Jacobs, it has to be his durability. His run-you-over style may not be the best way to stay on the field for a season.

"Sometimes when you have no choice, you can't do anything else," Jacobs said. "But I've got some stuff up my sleeve."

The one thing Jacobs doesn't doubt is his ability to replace Barber. He has been asked about it too many times since the end of last season.

"No disrespect, but I am tired of hearing it," he said.

There are still some things that have to be settled. The offensive line did a lot of zone blocking so Barber could take advantage of his cutback ability in recent years. The line now will have to figure out what is the best scheme for Jacobs.

"I know one thing, he won't have a hard time running straight ahead," center Shaun O'Hara said.

Pass protection will be another issue. Despite his size, Barber was very good at picking up blitzes and keeping defenders out of Eli Manning's lap.

Manning predicted that Jacobs "is going to stand them up."

"They are not going to try to bull rush him," Manning said.

Jacobs has one other thing working in his favor. He learned a lot from Barber.

"He said there was much more on my shoulders now," Jacobs said. "You get criticized for every little thing you do - (praised) when you are doing good, and you're the scum of the earth when you are doing bad."

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