EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Starting isn't an issue for New York Giants running back Andre Brown.
After spending the last 10 weeks on recallable injured reserve with a second broken leg in less than a year, all Brown cares about is playing against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
"Sitting out this long, as long as I go in there and make a play or two, that's what I am looking forward to," Brown said Wednesday after practice. "It's not about starting. It's just about being back out there, especially coming from where I came from: the humble beginnings and breaking (the leg) and going through this adversity again and coming back. It's a surreal moment to go out and play football again."
Brown has not had the easiest career in the NFL. The five-year veteran has had a career marked by injuries and a nomadic journey from team to team. He finally seemed to catch on last year with the Giants, scoring eight touchdowns in 10 games, playing mostly in passing and goal-line situations.
Unfortunately, he broke his left fibula in late November and broke it again in the same spot in the preseason finale against New England.
"The doctors said the odds of being hit in the same spot and breaking it again were just crazy," Brown said.
The leg has healed and Brown had been practicing for the past two weeks. He fully expects to play Sunday and he can't hide his excitement. He wants the ball handed to him. He wants to feel the thud of getting popped. He wants to hit someone. He wants to play football again for a team that a couple of weeks ago didn't have a starting halfback because of injuries.
"I am ready to roll," Brown said. "I am pretty sure they are going to switch us in and out to make sure I have my wind. It's not about the leg. It's about me getting back in football shape, which I am in, but getting used to contact and seeing how that goes."
Coach Tom Coughlin indicated Brown will have a role.
"I'm looking forward to the return of that player, quite frankly," Coughlin said. "Size, speed, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he does a good job in pass protection. You sometimes forget that the guy is 230 pounds. That's a little bit of a different dimension."
Coming off a bye, the Giants have three potential starters with Brandon Jacobs healthy and Peyton Hillis. Hillis seemingly is more in shape after coming in off the street and carrying the brunt of the running attack with David Wilson (neck) and Jacobs (hamstring) sidelined.
Coughlin joked about Brown's role when pressed about how much he would be able to do, saying he envisions Brown would carry the ball 40 times, catch 15 passes and return kickoffs.
Brown didn't know what to make of Coughlin's comment until being told the coach was being sarcastic.
"Whew," said a relieved Brown, who plans to wear a small shin guard on his leg. Doctors have said he'll have to wear it the rest of his career.
Having Brown back in the lineup should help the offence, which didn't score a touchdown in the 15-7 win over Philadelphia before the bye. Josh Brown kicked five field goals.
"It's a great tribute to Andre the way he has worked to come back from these injuries," quarterback Eli Manning said. "I know it has been frustrating for him, but he has done a great job of staying positive. The team has supported him and had his back. Hopefully, he'll come back and help us out."
Brown said the keys for him will be to hold onto the ball and make sure he makes his blocks in passing situations.
"It's going to be fun. I just can't wait," Brown said. "I haven't been getting too much sleep because it's like Christmas. I'm just really looking forward to going back out there and playing."
NOTES: G Chris Snee got off crutches Wednesday, three weeks after hip surgery, his second in a year. ...WR Victor Cruz (neck) expects to practice Thursday after being held out as a precaution. ...DE Jason Pierre-Paul said he now feels the best he has since having back surgery in June, noting he's 90 per cent.
AP NFL website: —www.pro32.ap.org