ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Giants’ running game has nowhere to go but up in 2012.
While New York won the Super Bowl, it did it with Eli Manning’s arm and a surging, swarming defense.
The running game, once the focal point of the offense in Giants lore, was an embarrassment last season, averaging just 89.2 yards. That was last in the NFL.
Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw said the ranking was "devastating" and took some of the joy out of winning the league title for the second time in five seasons.
"That’s a tough thing as a running back, actually being the starter and being a big part of it," Bradshaw said Friday before the Giants held their first practice of the training camp at the University at Albany. "We’ve got to look forward to this year and doing a whole lot better up front, all together as an offense. I think it’ll come."
The Giants have issues. Starting right tackle Kareem McKenzie was not re-signed and left tackle Will Beatty, who missed the second half of last season with an eye injury, is battling sciatica in his back and is limited for the start of camp.
With Brandon Jacobs playing in San Francisco, the job as the No. 2 running back is open.
Still, the potential is there. If the line can come together and Bradshaw, who has battled foot injuries throughout his career, can stay healthy, the offense has a chance to be explosive when Eli Manning and receiver Victor Cruz
Coach Tom Coughlin believes the running game will improve, despite having less time to devote to it because of the current practice rules under the collective bargaining agreement reached last year.
"We rushed it down the stretch -- and in the six (playoff) games at the end of the year -- better than we did throughout the whole year, but we didn’t have the big plays," Coughlin said. "The balance factor is always something that we’ve been able to count on.
"We’ve got to get back to that."