With Bradshaw back, Brown's role up in air

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andre Brown is coming off the best game of his football career ... and is headed back to the bench.

Well, not exactly. But he won't be starting when the Giants face the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday night. Ahmad Bradshaw will be, now that he has been cleared to resume practicing. Coach Tom Coughlin confirmed that Wednesday.

But he also confirmed Brown has earned a more significant role in the Giants' offense going forward. "Yeah, definitely," Coughlin said.

That's still a step up for Brown, who had just two carries in his first three years in the NFL. When Bradshaw went down with a neck injury against the Buccaneers in Week 2, Coughlin turned to Brown, as opposed to first-round draft pick David Wilson. And Brown rewarded him, carrying the ball 13 times for 71 yards and a touchdown in the Giants' 41-34 comeback win.

Against the Panthers last week, he was even better. Playing in front of family and friends in his home state of North Carolina, Brown had 20 rushes for 113 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-7 blowout victory.

But now, just two weeks after getting his big break, he takes a backseat to Bradshaw -- which can't be easy.

"Coach told me just continue to be prepared, and whatever happens, happens," Brown said Wednesday. "That's all I can do."

Is there room for more than one running back to make a big impact on this team? Sure. Recall the 2008 Giants, who featured a pair of 1,000-yard rushers -- Brandon Jacobs (1,089) and Derrick Ward (1,025) -- plus Bradshaw, who added 355 yards in his second year in the league.

That trio earned the nickname "Earth, Wind and Fire" -- even featured on T-shirts by the end of that season.

"That'd be nice," said Brown, when the 2008 trio was mentioned to him. "All I can do is just go out there and prepare. Ahmad's the starter, Dave [Wilson], we got Da'Rel (Scott). We just go out there and work hard and let everything else fall into place."

Coughlin said the team will have a plan about how they're going to use both Bradshaw and Brown -- although he wouldn't tip his hand to reporters. "Well, at this point in time, it'll be according to however we plan to use them," said Coughlin, when asked about divvying up the carries. "(But) naturally, we reserve the right (to go with) who has the hot hand."

Brown has been the "hotter" of the two running backs so far this season -- averaging 5.6 yards per carry, compared to Bradshaw's average of 4.3. But Bradshaw has much more of an NFL track record, including a 1,235-yard season in 2010.

Brown admitted that it will be a challenge, continuing to be as productive when getting fewer opportunities. "Playing running back, once you get three carries, four carries, you get in a groove of things," Brown said.

But he'll be happy with any opportunities he gets, after spending three years on the bench, waiting for his chance to play.

"I just feel like, if we're splitting the carries, I'm just gonna have to take advantage of every carry," Brown said. "I just wanna stay out there and try to take advantage of every carry I get."