New York Giants running back Andre Brown was unsure whether he'd even play professional football again after rupturing his Achilles tendon in just his first NFL training camp. Before the Giants re-signed Brown this season, he had been waived by five teams including the Giants, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins.
Brown would experience another set-back when Roger Goodell suspended him four games for failing a PED test for Adderall. However, he would appeal Goodell's decision resulting in his suspension being lifted. It appeared his chances to become a force in the NFL were running out … that is until he received a giant opportunity in Thursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers.
Brown had earned a spot on the Giants' roster as the third running back behind starter Ahmad Bradshaw and rookie David Wilson. However, Wilson, the first round pick in last year's draft, cost himself significant playing time after coughing up the ball on just his second carry of his career. Bradshaw then suffered a neck sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which prevented him from returning to the game, and allowed Brown to get the majority of the carries. Brown saw his opportunity to impress the coaches and ran with it, accruing 71 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
Brown's impressive performance against the Bucs and Bradshaw's ailing neck presented Andre with the opportunity he had been longing for: his first start in the NFL.
Brown ran hard and fast, but most importantly, he was patient in finding the gaps. He would finish the night with 113 yards and two touchdowns on twenty carries, contributing to a dominant performance for the Giants who blew out the Panthers 36-7.
“I’m so happy to come out here. It really humbled me. It really shows that everything is not guaranteed,” Brown told the Associated Press after the game. “You know, I’m just going to ride this wave. Hopefully, it’s a long wave.”
Depth had been a major question mark for the Giants but the performance of Brown, along with receivers Ramses Barden and Reuben Randle, proved that when the team is shorthanded, the Giants have players who can step up and keep the team clicking on all cylinders.
In the last two games, Brown has provided the Giants with a prominent rushing attack, an aspect of the offense that appeared non-existent in the last couple of seasons. Brown's success assisted in the passing game as well, allowing the play action pass to be more effective, which helped Manning dissect the Panthers' secondary.
Though Bradshaw is expected to resume the starting role when he returns to health, Brown will certainly see a steady workload even after Bradshaw returns. Perhaps the 6-foot, 227 pound Andre Brown will become the replacement to Brandon Jacobs as the other half of the one two punch the Giants had last season.
Andre the Giant is living proof that hard work pays off and persistence can lead to excellent opportunities. Perhaps Eli Manning summed up Brown's rocky and improbable road to relevance best.
“At this level, you never know when you’re going to get an opportunity, you’ve got to be prepared for it, Andre Brown is a great example. He’s a guy we drafted, he bounced around, and we brought him back. He was on the bubble to make the team, and here you go.”
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