Ahmad Bradshaw sure seems to be making up for lost time.
The two-time, Super Bowl-winning running back who hoped he would get another NFL opportunity scored on two touchdown receptions in the Indianapolis Colts’ 24-21 comeback win at Atlanta. In the previous game, the reserve scored on another reception.
It shouldn’t be surprising. In 10 games last season before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula, the ninth-year pro’s six touchdown catches led all NFL running backs.
That explains why the Colts re-signed him on Oct. 14 to back up Frank Gore. While the rushing yards have been harder to come by — he’s gained 79 yards on 27 carries in five games — he’s had seven catches for 44 yards and the three scores. Plus, the intense back is excellent at picking up blitzing defenders.
“He’s a stud,” Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said after Sunday’s win. “Him and Frank both, I can’t imagine having to tackle those guys. They are tough. They are hard-nosed and have the respect of everybody in the locker room.
“We need them. Today, we needed them in the running game and we needed them in the passing game as well. They are kind of bend, don’t-break defense, they try not to give you any big plays and see if you are willing to be patient enough to drive it down the field without having a turnover.”
Head coach Chuck Pagano said it’s no accident that Bradshaw continually finds the end zone.
“You look at him before he got hurt in the New England game a year ago, he had eight touchdowns up to that point,” the coach said. “He just seems to be a guy that finds his way to the end zone. He is doing the same thing this year. In back-to-back games where he gets checked downs, and great option routes in the flat today to score the touchdown.
“He is a great weapon for us. We feel like it’s a great one-two punch with Frank Gore and AB, and he is just going to continue as he gets stronger and gets his legs underneath him and back into football shape. He is just going to keep getting better.”
If true, the rushing yards will come. Bradshaw averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season before getting hurt. He only started one game a year ago, but as this season reminds, it’s about making the most of the snaps he receives.
When re-signed, he spoke of how he prayed for a return to be with his brothers in blue.
After Sunday's win, he credited a Colts defense with four takeaways and provided enough of an opportunity to pull off a comeback win from 14 points down in the third quarter.
“They give us so many chances and we know that we are going to hit on one of them,” he said. “We just have to take advantage of it. Our defense kept giving us the ball back and stopping them from getting points. We felt like we had to put something on the board and help them out and keep them off of the field.”
Bradshaw also credited injured quarterback Andrew Luck for his input on the sideline.
“Andrew is the leader of this team,” Bradshaw said. “He gives great confidence to a lot of guys.”
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