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Giants might rely on Jacobs more with Bradshaw injured

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brandon Jacobs was on the verge of a career day last weekend and barely touched the ball in the second half.

In a game where he was getting 12.9 yards a carry, the big, bruising New York Giants' running back took two handoffs in the second half and scored on one from 28 yards out.

At other times in his six-year career, Jacobs might have been annoyed. Not this time.

"It was more important that we got Ahmad to 1,000 yards," Jacobs said Wednesday after the Giants (8-4) practiced for Sunday's game in Minnesota against the Vikings (5-7).

Ahmad Bradshaw, of course, is Jacobs' closest buddy on the team. The two running backs are roommates in training camp and they seemingly are always near each other in the locker room.

It's a relationship that has grown despite their ongoing competition to be the Giants' No. 1 running back.

Jacobs had the job for three seasons before losing it this year to Bradshaw, who did not practice on Wednesday because of a wrist injury. He was not listed on the Giants' original injury report earlier in the day and coach Tom Coughlin did not mention him in his press conference before practice, so the extent of the injury is not known.

Jacobs got the No. 1 job back two weeks ago because Bradshaw could not overcome a problem with fumbles. Since the switch, Jacobs has posted some impressive numbers, carrying 22 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns. That's an average of 8.64 yards.

His 103-yard effort against the Washington Redskins on Sunday in a 31-7 win was his 10th career 100-yard game, and his first since Nov. 9, 2008 against Philadelphia. It was just 40 yards shy of his career best of 143 against Buffalo late in the 2007 season.

The timing could not have been better for the Giants, who have relied on their running game the past two weeks because leading receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks have been sidelined with injuries.

"I am excited about playing, period," Jacobs said. "I am excited about catching the ball, pass blocking, but I am most excited about running, as a running back is supposed to. I feel really good. I am healthy. I am at the point where this is my sixth year and I just want to win."

Jacobs helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in February 2008 against New England, and he believes this team has the potential to make another run.

That's why he was not concerned about spending most of the second half watching Bradshaw (25 carries for 97 yards) put the final touches on his first 1,000-yard season. He now has 1,013 yards.

Jacobs might be called upon to do more this weekend against the Vikings, who are 2-0 under interim coach Leslie Frazier, because of Bradshaw's injury.

Jacobs is relatively fresh though. He has been limited to 100 carries for 577 yards in 12 games, a 5-yard average. The right knee that needed surgery after last season is fine.

Both of Jacobs touchdown runs came after he made cutbacks to find the open field.

"Last year I could not make those cuts," Jacobs said. "Every time I put weight down on one leg it would give out and I'd almost fall and lose momentum going toward defenders. It would end up being nothing. I feel very good right now, knock on wood. I hope it continues feeling that way. I can deal with anything else but the knee."

The Vikings have one of the league's top run defenses, yielding an average of 92 yards, fourth best in the league. But the Giants should get some reinforcements on offense this week. Left tackle David Diehl, Smith and Nicks all have a chance of playing.

Diehl, who had never missed a game during his eight years, has been out the past four due to hip and hamstring injuries. He practiced on Wednesday and said he planned to play Sunday.

"I don't think anything else needs to be said," Diehl said.

Smith has been out for four games with a partial tear of his pectoral muscle. He practiced on a limited basis.

"I'm thinking I'm playing," said Smith, who set a franchise record last season with 107 receptions. "The doctors -- I don't know what they're going to say and all -- but going off me, I feel like I'm going to play."

Nicks, who has a team-high nine touchdown catches, has missed the past two games after having a surgical procedure to relieve pressure in his lower leg. He ran for the first time on Monday and took part in 60 percent of the plays in practice.

"My mentality is if I'm practicing, I'm playing," Nicks said.

Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara, who has been limited to four games because of ankle and foot injuries, also took part in practice on a limited basis.

"I think as soon as we get some guys back, we are going to hit the ground running like we did before guys got hurt," Jacobs said of the team's five-game winning streak earlier this season. "It's the healthiest at the end of the season who is going to win this thing."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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