INDIANAPOLIS – Running back Ahmad Bradshaw returned to Lucas Oil Field on Wednesday for the first time since he scored the winning touchdown for the New York Giants in the 2012 Super Bowl.
The newest member of the Indianapolis Colts donned his familiar No. 44, but wore a gray walking boot on his right foot. Bradshaw, signed to a one-year deal Tuesday, is still rehabbing from January foot surgery with an eye on being healthy when players report to training camp July 27.
Its something that I have to go through. Its a process, Bradshaw said. Were just taking it slow right now. I feel great. Im just happy to be here. I cant say its strange (to be back in this building). Its a great feeling. Hopefully, great things will happen in this building while Im here also.
The Giants released the 27-year-old Bradshaw in February after six seasons with the team. He won two Super Bowls in New York and had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but injuries were a consistent issue. His last carry on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf was the 6-yard touchdown run in which he spun backward at 1 and sat down in the end zone with 57 seconds remaining against the Patriots.
Bradshaw had been out of the walking boot, but the Colts asked him to put it back on when he signed. He tagged along with the running back group and closely followed the practice script on sheets of paper. Vick Ballard, who rushed for 814 yards as a rookie in 2012, and Donald Brown will be Bradshaws biggest competition for regular-season snaps.
Just to err on the side of caution, just to protect him from himself, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. The kid wants to go, but hes not ready. You get great competitors like that, and you basically have to protect them from themselves.
Weve got one practice left. It wouldnt make any sense to throw him out here today or tomorrow and have him reinjure that foot and lose him for half the season. Hell be ready by training camp.
The 10,000 fans were still thrilled to get autographs from Bradshaw and the rest of the Colts at the lone public workout of minicamp. Players well be free until training camp after todays session. This was the first opportunity for fans to check out 37 new faces, including free-agent signings Gosder Cherilus, LaRon Landry, Erik Walden, Darrius Heyward-Bey and top draft pick Bjoern Werner.
Were standing there during warm-ups and you get a guy like Reggie Wayne comes up to you and he says, It doesnt matter what time of year it is, when the lights are on, it doesnt matter, Pagano said. Great players like him and the rest of the guys out here, it makes the hair on the back of the neck stand up. Thats when you know you have the right guys.