EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There were times in the past year when running back Brandon Jacobs' days with the New York Giants looked numbered.
Upset with losing his starting job to buddy Ahmad Bradshaw last season, and angry with the media for questioning him about it, he was moody all year and in rare form when the Giants packed their bags and left the locker room after missing the playoffs a second straight year.
His last words leaving were — offensive to say the least.
Less than nine months later, Jacobs seems content. He took a pay cut so Bradshaw could re-sign with a team and seems ready to take whatever role Tom Coughlin has for him. He also is playing well enough to take over as the starter again.
In two preseason games, Jacobs has rushed for 64 yards on nine carries, a 7.1 yard average. Even more impressive was his 18-yard touchdown run against the Chicago Bears on Monday night. The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder bruiser put a move on Major Wright that left the Bears safety grasping at air.
"I feel good," Jacobs said. "My main goal is to get out and try to help this team bring the most Ws that we can possibly bring in. I've trained for this. I've been ready for this since March. I did the most I've ever done in any offseason. The level for me just keeps getting higher and higher. The older that I get, I want to keep playing at a higher level."
Jacobs is diplomatic when asked about taking over the starting role again. Being an athlete, sure he wants to be the starter. If he is not, he can live with it, up to a point.
"Just give me what I think I can do," the 29-year-old said. "Just give a little more carries and let me get out there and play as hard as I can."
Jacobs rushed for 823 yards and nine touchdowns last season, averaging 5.6 yards. He started five of the final six games, regaining the No. 1 job when Bradshaw started fumbling too much for coach Tom Coughlin.
By the numbers, it was a good season.
However, Jacobs had his moments. He had an early blowup with the media when asked about losing his starting job. He was fined $10,000 for tossing his helmet into the stands in a game in Indianapolis, and he was hit with a $20,000 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct after he made obscene gestures and yelled obscenities at fans prior to a game in Philadelphia in late November.
His final curtain call came in the locker room at the end of the season as photographers took his picture. He sarcastically said: "Click. Click. Click," and then told everyone in ear shot that they must be wondering whether this is the last time they will be seeing the big running back in the locker room. Jacobs then uttered an expletive and left.
Sometime during the offseason, Jacobs decided he wanted to stay and he worked hard to get ready for when the lockout would end.
"The nature of the business kind of tells you what you have to do," Jacobs said. "The way things are going and being a money-driven business, you never know what you are going to be presented with, ever. So I wanted to give myself the best chance possible to give myself and my family the chance to have another solid three to four years."
There is a chance Jacobs might be in the starting backfield on Saturday in the annual preseason game against the Jets. Bradshaw took a knee in the back on Monday night against the Bears and he did not practice on Thursday.
While the injury is not serious, Coughlin was not sure whether Bradshaw would play.
Jacobs is ready and he knows what he wants to see from the offense.
"Put up points," he said. "Come out and execute; no dumb, stupid penalties, no mental errors and all the negative plays are gone."