Giants could lean on Jacobs, Ross with Bradshaw, Johnson ailing

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and safety Michael Johnson didn't practice Thursday because of injuries, leaving their availability for this weekend's NFC East showdown with the Dallas Cowboys uncertain.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said it was "encouraging" that Bradshaw, the team's second-leading rusher, sprinted a bit during practice Thursday. Bradshaw, who missed the Thanksgiving night loss at Denver with left ankle and foot problems, no longer is wearing a boot.

"Knowing him, I think he will try to play," Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "I will be surprised if he doesn't try to play. ... I think his mind-set is he is playing."

If Bradshaw can't play Sunday, the Giants would be short-handed at running back because Danny Ware sustained a concussion against the Broncos and was ruled out against the Cowboys.

"There's no easy solution," Gilbride said. "They're being very courageous and fighting through it and banged up and trying to act like there's nothing wrong."

Depending on Bradshaw's availability, the Giants might have to lean heavily on starter Brandon Jacobs. Rookie Gartrell Johnson is the Giants' only other healthy running back.

"If Danny Ware is out and Ahmad is iffy, do I expect to see more carries?" Jacobs said, repeating a question from a reporter. "Who else are they going to give it to? I'm joking, man. I do expect to see more carries, I do expect more playing time than I normally get. I am looking forward to that challenge and looking forward to that opportunity."

Johnson, a fourth-round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers in April, was claimed by the Giants in September. He has 11 carries for 39 yards.

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"He's getting there," Jacobs said of Johnson. "He's just like every rookie that comes in and struggles with the playbook. He's learning and he's getting better, and he's going to be able to take some snaps for us also."

Michael Johnson could miss the game against the Cowboys with a groin injury, although Coughlin said the safety was able to do "everything but practice" Thursday.

Cornerback Aaron Ross also could see more playing time if Johnson is forced to sit. Since missing the first nine games with hamstring injuries, Ross has played safety in a backup role.

"I'm still a corner," said Ross, who added that he's becoming more comfortable at a new position.

If Johnson sits, Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said Aaron Rouse and C.C. Brown will start in the base defense, with Ross seeing more playing time behind them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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