NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — After a relatively calm training camp and preseason, the New York Giants finally have some controversy.
Brandon Jacobs is unhappy after being demoted to the No. 2 halfback behind Ahmad Bradshaw, and he mouthed a little more than a week before the season opener against the Carolina Panthers.
The comments to ESPN New York after the Giants’ 20-17 win over the New England Patriots caught Tom Coughlin off guard on Friday.
Coughlin took time to sit down with Jacobs to explain that the Giants have always been a team that uses two running backs and that is not changing, even though Bradshaw will get the first call.
“Nothing has changed,” Coughlin said in a conference call. “The big thing that is important to realize is that Brandon is healthier than he’s ever been prior to the start of the season and that’s a good thing, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play our multiple running game.
Jacobs, who gained 835 yards last season after 1,000-yard seasons the previous two years, expressed his frustration after failing to get a carry on a night that the Giants rushed for 160 yards on 32 attempts.
“No one’s your friend in this business,” he told ESPN. “This is a cutthroat, backstabbing business. That’s just the way it goes. It’s been like that before me. If you expect anything else out of a business like this, you’re crazy.”
Bradshaw, who is Jacobs’s close friend, had four carries for 26 yards in limited actions, while D.J. Ware (13 for 60 yards) and Gartrell Johnson (12 for 50) got the bulk of the work.
Coughlin said the team limited Jacobs’ carries in the training camp and the preseason (10 for 43 yards) to keep him healthy for the regular season.
However, Jacobs was miffed that Bradshaw seemingly always got the first carry in training camp.
Jacobs, who had offseason knee surgery, said that the NFL is a tough business, especially to players who make it big. He signed a four-year, $25 million contract extension after the 2008 season.
“If I would have stayed making minimum, this wouldn’t be a problem,” Jacobs said. “Once you get paid, you’re always in danger of running into problems like this. It doesn’t matter who you are or what team or organization you play for, that’s just the way it is.”
Coughlin left his conversion with Jacobs with the belief that the two are now on the same page.
“He is well aware of where we are and what we are doing,” Coughlin said. “He’s very, very confident in his relationship with (running backs coach) Jerald Ingram and he and Jerald are, I believe, on the same page. There is no, I don’t believe that there is an issue there.”
Coughlin said Jacobs was healthy on Thursday and that did not limit his availability. He caught one pass for 6 yards.
“Brandon didn’t get the number of snaps that was intended for him last night but the end result of having him ready to go for the season is still in place,” Coughlin said.
Overall, Coughlin said he was pleased with the way Eli Manning and the first-team offense performed in scoring a touchdown on the opening series. He thought the defense, which is one of the major question marks entering this season, made progress. Special teams still need work, particularly on kickoff coverage and returns.
Coughlin refused to say that second-year pro Rhett Bomar had nailed down the backup quarterback job by throwing for 171 yards against the Patriots, including a late game-winning 60-yard touchdown pass to Duke Calhoun.
“There isn’t any question that Rhett has improved and he has more confidence, he has more poise, he’s running the huddle better,” Coughlin said. “He’s had a couple of back to back weeks with two-minute experiences that he’s handled very well, so there’s progress there isn’t any doubt about it.”
While the defense allowed 383 total yards, it limited the Patriots to 73 yards rushing and staged a great second-half goal-line stand, stopping New England on three tries from the 1-yard line.
“I think that the defense is improving,” Coughlin said. “We still have improvement to go. We’d like to get a couple of guys back that are not out there so that they can make a contribution as well but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
The defense should get better with starting cornerback Corey Webster ready to return to practice, Keith Bulluck stepping in at an outside linebacker spot and with Jonathan Goff playing solid in the middle.
“I just think a lot of people played hard, and everyone is ready for the regular season,” Bulluck said. “It was our last little tune up. You want to go into a regular season with momentum so that’s what it is. We played with an energy level. We always went to the ball. We played hard, and that’s what we needed going into this regular season.”
NOTES: Coughlin was not sure whether starting C Shaun O’Hara (ankle) or CB Aaron Ross (plantar fasciitis) will be ready to practice on Wednesday. …The Giants need to cut 22 players Saturday to get to the 53-man roster limit.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.