INDIANAPOLIS – Six weeks ago, Ahmad Bradshaw said he was feeling great and getting better after the neck surgery he underwent six months ago.
Cleared last Friday to take the next step in his recovery, Bradshaw is going through the paces as the Colts conduct the second week of OTA practices.
"(The rehab's) still going good. I got the chance to get out here Monday, and it's been feeling great," said Bradshaw, mopping a sweaty brow Tuesday afternoon. "I got cleared Friday to be out here.
"It's the next step ahead for me – to keep going, keep pushing. I'm just glad to be out here with the guys and getting the feel of these things."
The Colts re-signed unrestricted free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
Bradshaw has looked very much the fish in water the last two days as the Colts went through their fourth and fifth spring sessions.
Wearing a protective red jersey is good business for the recovering Bradshaw, who had neck fusion surgery after being injured early last season. It is a bit like a bird being uncaged.
"Definitely, I feel like a new man," said Bradshaw. "I missed a lot of football last year. I've never missed that much of a season. I'd never gotten hurt to take me out of that much of a season. It's just been a relief for me all week."
Bradshaw joined Indianapolis just prior to last year's June mini-camp. He spectated heavily in training camp while overcoming a foot injury incurred with the New York Giants.
He had 41 of the Colts' 91 carries and 186 of the club's 439 rushing yards through three games (the totals influenced with the season-ending knee injury to Vick Ballard after the opener), and was a key component as Indianapolis had a first-ever four-game streak with at least 25 rushes and a 4.5 average in 30 seasons.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS CONSECUTIVE GAMES (25 RUSHES; 4.5 AVERAGE)
9/16/84 ST. LOUIS
Dickey 23-121; McMillan 11-40; Pagel 2-21
Dickey 15-77; McMillan 13-67; Schlichter 1-7
McMillan 16-114; Dickey 14-72
Ballard 13-63; Luck 6-38; Bradshaw 7-26
Bradshaw 15-65; Luck 4-38; Brown 7-30
Bradshaw 19-95; Richardson 13-35; Brown 3-25; Luck 4-24
Brown 3-65; Richardson 20-60; Luck 2-26
The 27-7 win at San Francisco when Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards (the club's season-high individual total), was his last outing.
Surgery relegated Bradshaw to only a part-time practice attendee, a loss of service he called "devastating."
Bradshaw always had respected the game, but being sidelined gave him a biting sense of separation.
"I've never lost that respect. I know how this game is," said Bradshaw. "Just having that time off made me miss it that much more.
"I love the game more than anybody, and my respect for the game is as high as it can be. Mentally, I feel like I'm much smarter in the game. Physically, I'm getting back there also."
Bradshaw opened 2013 with Ballard as the 1-2 rushing punch. It changed to a combination punch with Trent Richardson once Ballard departed.
Richardson is working this spring, while Ballard continues to recover successfully. If the 1-2 punch approach remains is still to be seen. As things go, one back could emerge to shoulder a bit more of the load.
Bradshaw said six weeks ago he felt the neck surgery made him feel stronger. It was a fusion of the C3 and C4 bones ("It's actually two vertebraes working together now," he said).
Prior to last Friday, Bradshaw only rehabbed. Now, he is flashing on the field and expects an increased personal pace.
"Oh, yeah, I expect to get a lot more," said Bradshaw. "My load is getting a little bigger every day. You know me, I want to get better and keep pushing every day. I think it will come."
Bradshaw saw his team peel off an 11-5 season that reached the divisional playoff round. The back who has gained 4,418 rushing yards and who is but 38 carries shy of 1,000 for his career has been to the playoffs three times – all with the Giants.
Bradshaw came here a veteran-hardened player seeking more heights. He aims to contribute to a team harboring lofty aspirations.
"We have a lot of great vets. Even more, we have a lot of young guys who can come in and help our team tremendously," said Bradshaw. "With the vets – Reggie, Robert, Cory, Andrew, he's one of the top-of-the-line guys – I just want help my position out as much as possible and help this team."