Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw hopes to demonstrate how meaningless preseason football can be for a veteran player. The Colts are banking on it.
Bradshaw didn't play a single down during the preseason and participated in only a handful of practices. But he'll be on the field versus the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium, running full speed ahead.
“There's probably a certain amount of plays we'd like to get him,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “What that is, I don't know. Again, he was out there running around and looked pretty good (Monday).”
Bradshaw signed with the Colts as a free agent after the New York Giants declined to bring him back. He was irritated at the Giants because his production was still strong. He rushed for 1,015 yards (4.6 per carry) and six touchdowns last season and caught 23 passes for 245 yards. It was the second-most productive year of his six-year career.
But running backs in the NFL tend to have short shelf lives, and even a 27-year-old like Bradshaw can be considered on the downside of his career.
“My (motivation) is just prove everybody wrong,” Bradshaw 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 missed the preseason as he continued to rehabilitate after surgery on his right foot last January. He showed no signs of problems during times he participated in open practices.
Missing the preseason is not necessarily a huge problem for a veteran player, although Bradshaw is with a new team and a new offense so that could make it trickier.
The fact he wasn't always on the field doesn't mean he wasn't soaking in the offense, he said.
“Watching, I just looked at it as an advantage mentally,” Bradshaw said. “Just to get to know the offense a whole lot better and see it from the outside. Now I get into it and have the reps and get it done. I just look to get that communication between me and the quarterback and the linemen also.”
Bradshaw can be considered a key offseason acquisition in light of Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's stated desire to improve the running game and the run-pass balance of the offense.
Pagano said he likes Bradshaw's presence because of his experience and the fact he's been on two Super Bowl champions. The second one was in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Vick Ballard is expected to start against the Raiders, with either Bradshaw or Donald Brown coming into the game in relief.
Bradshaw makes no bones about his desire to be the No.1 back.
“I've been around this game and I've seen a lot of guys down at the beginning and come back and have great years,” Bradshaw said. “That's just the plan – to come out and be fired up and make plays for this team. …I love this game and I'm going to give my 100 percent every time and every Sunday. 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.”
Rayford traded, Jones promoted
Rookie outside linebacker Caesar Rayford was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional draft pick Tuesday, one of four personnel moves by the team.
The Colts promoted tight end Dominique Jones to the 53-man active roster to take Rayford's spot, and rookie tight end Justice Cunningham was signed to the practice squad.
The Colts also waived injured safety John Boyett after his arrest by police over the weekend.