Brandon Jacobs lobbies for Burress

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Brandon Jacobs finally met with reporters for the first time in training camp and the New York Giants running back had a message for all to see.

"Free 17 Let Him Ball Out."

The white T-shirt Jacobs made was a message to free his old friend and former teammate Plaxico Burress from jail and let him play.

"You won't see that anywhere unless you go and get it made just like I did," Jacobs said of one of his best friends. "We talked once a week before camp started. I'm just hoping for the best for him and his family. Hopefully he can get out and continue his career."

Burress applied for work release last month for the second time during his prison sentence. He originally applied for work release in November, but it was denied by the New York Department of Correctional Services because of the nature of his crime.

The program would allow him to spend some portion of his sentence at home.

If Burress were let out on work release, he would be eligible to sign with any NFL team.

Giants general manager Jerry Reese has said the team will keep its options open with Burress, who will turn 33 on Thursday.

But there is some question whether the New York Department of Correctional Services would allow him to work outside of New York.

"It would be in the discretion of the board. They take each case on an individual basis," Ben Brafman, Burress' attorney, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday.

Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled shortly after Burress was sent to prison that his suspension would be lifted and he would be reinstated and eligible to sign with a team upon the completion of his sentence.

Burress carried a loaded handgun into a Manhattan nightclub in late November 2008. It went off and he was wounded in the leg, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

The T-shirt wasn't the only message Jacobs delivered on Monday. The running back said he is feeling really good and fast after a new offseason training approach and that he is ready to redeem himself after a disappointing injury-marred season.

What remains to be seen is how many carries will be divided up between Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Jacobs, the longtime starter, has watched his good friend curiously receive the first carry in many of the practices in camp.

"I have no idea," Jacobs said of why Bradshaw has been getting the first snap. "I don't know the reason, I really don't know anything about it. I'm just out here to try and help us win. No matter who gets the first carry or what, I'm still there and I'm not dead, so we still have a chance to win it."

After watching all of their running backs suffer injuries last year, the Giants want to revive their rushing attack and Jacobs will have to put the power back in their power ground game.

But the Giants also say they will utilize more than just Jacobs and Bradshaw. Backups D.J. Ware and Andre Brown -- both coming off their own surgeries last year -- could see snaps on third downs as the Giants look toward duplicating the success the defending champion Saints had with a three-back rotation last season with Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush.

Tom Coughlin urged reporters not to read into who is getting the first carry as an indication of how the depth chart stands. Running backs coach Jerald Ingram said there will be plenty of situational action for his backs.

"Well no one is really the starting running back," Ingram said. "We are not going to get hung up on who is the starting running back. It is who does what when that play is called. Just like we saw with the New Orleans Saints a year ago, we are going to put that guy, who does what best, in that situation. We are trying to spread it out there so that everybody understands they have a role in the game plan and kind of go from there. It will be based on who we play against."

After being slowed by a knee injury all season and finishing with just 835 yards and five touchdowns, Jacobs had offseason surgery and opted to change his offseason workout routine. Instead of getting stronger and doing all the dead lifts and power lifts, Jacobs focused on increasing his flexibility and mobility with more core work and hip exercises.

"I feel better this year than I have felt since my third year in the league," said Jacobs, who is entering his sixth season. "I feel really good."

"I just realized that all the strength stuff isn't benefitting me," he continued. "I came out of the womb strong. I don't need that. I didn't look to build strength. I just looked to maintain strength. I just need to be more flexible."

Bradshaw said he is feeling great after undergoing offseason surgery on both of his feet and ankle.
Jacobs and Bradshaw are suitemates and the two have been talking nightly about how they are going to be a potent combo again after the Giants failed to post a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in seven years.

"Every night we sit there, we play 'Call of Duty' [video game] and talk about us coming back and being a force that we need to be," Jacobs said. "We want to be up in the top two or three of the league, where we have always been. We built a house on the top of the hill. We need to go back and knock at that door, and New Orleans better let us in again."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »