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Ahmad Bradshaw barely could complete an answer before the next question about his suspicious past began.

Bradshaw expected to get grilled, of course, especially now that he has joined the increasingly image-conscious NFL. So the scrutinized rookie patiently addressed every inquiry regarding his two arrests in college, the transgressions that allowed the Giants to select the talented tailback in the seventh round of the draft. The former Marshall University star understands, too, that skeptics will watch him closer than they would most men taken 250th overall.

"That's fair, to look at me like that," Bradshaw said. "That makes me work 10 times harder."

Bradshaw's production at Marshall is indicative of a hard-working, versatile offensive weapon whose speed and stature should satisfy the Giants' glaring need for a more elusive alternative to big, bruising backs like Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns. The 5-9, 198-pound Bradshaw rushed for 2,988 yards in just two full seasons as a starter at Marshall, including a 1,523-yard, 19-touchdown junior season that prompted him to apply early for the NFL Draft.

It was what he did off the field, however, that most affected Bradshaw's draft position.

Bradshaw was arrested prior to his junior season at Marshall and charged with misdemeanor burglary. He was released from his University of Virginia scholarship two years earlier once he was charged with underage drinking and obstruction of justice. He'll get an opportunity to follow in Tiki Barber's footsteps after all, though, and looks forward to a fresh start here.

"Everybody looks at me as whatever," Bradshaw said, "but I plan on coming here and making a name for myself and helping the Giants out as much as I can, man. And all the character issues, that's put behind me now. I plan on fighting, making that a motivator for me."

Bradshaw met with new Giants general manager Jerry Reese during the team's recent rookie minicamp to discuss how he'll handle himself off the field.

"He had some off-field issues that probably made him drop that low," Reese said. "We've had talks and he's looking forward to the challenge."

Also a productive receiver, Bradshaw believes he would've been drafted as high as the third round had he never been arrested or waited until the 2008 NFL Draft. But he has a 3-year-old daughter in Virginia, so he skipped his senior season with the Thundering Herd.

On the field, Tom Coughlin hopes he can energize the Giants as a kickoff and punt returner, in addition to providing a change of pace on offense.

"He caught the ball coming out of the backfield (at minicamp)," Coughlin said. "We used him in the screen game. You saw a couple of runs where he was able to turn the ball north and south. So anytime you have those things taking place, it catches your eye for sure."

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