EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Sprinting down the field after catching a screen pass, New York Giants halfback Ahmad Bradshaw couldn’t help but hear the pounding of feet as a defender chased him down.

Glancing over his shoulder, Bradshaw got a surprise at the Giants’ voluntary workout on Friday.

The player closing the gap was defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the two-time Pro Bowler who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

“I felt him behind me,” Bradshaw said. “I always knew Osi had those wheels. I felt him and said, ‘Wow that Osi.’ It’s crazy. He’s been working hard and you can tell just by the speed he showed today.”

Umenyiora earned his second Pro Bowl berth and helped the Giants win the Super Bowl in 2007 by recording 13 sacks, including six in a game against the Philadelphia.

His role was expected to expand with the retirement of Michael Strahan after the 2007 season, but Umenyiora missed all of 2008 after tearing the lateral meniscus in his left knee in a preseason game against the New York Jets in August.

After months of rehabilitation, Umenyiora said his body feels great.

“But football shape is different than regular shape,” he added.

Umenyiora is just as quick to point out that the injury hasn’t taken anything away from his game.

“I still feel like I’m one of the best, if not the best defensive end in football right now,” he said. “I feel quick. I feel explosive. I don’t feel like I should be stopped one-on-one.”

Giants left tackle David Diehl has lined up against Umenyiora in the workouts and he can see how excited Umenyiora is to be on the field. He also agrees with his 27-year-old buddy.

“He has come back with full intentions not only to be one of the leaders on our defense but to be a dominating football player,” Diehl said. “It’s exciting to see him. It rallies people around him and I’m excited because he is going to push me. We push each other. He is back full steam ahead and he is looking to make a ruckus.”

The one thing that troubles Umenyiora is the memory of watching the Giants lose to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC semifinals. The offense struggled with receiver Plaxico Burress suspended and the defense never put pressure on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb with Umenyiora sidelined and end Justin Tuck and tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield battling injuries.

“It was a team we should have beat and it’s a team that if the opportunity arises again I think we will beat,” Umenyiora said. “I think this team in general has a mentality that we should have gone further than we did last year, that we should have actually been in the Super Bowl.”

Coach Tom Coughlin said Umenyiora did an outstanding job in the offseason weight program.

“He has worked hard to make sure his physical and mental approach were the same as they were prior to the injury,” Coughlin said.

NOTES: Tuck did not attend the voluntary workout and Coughlin did not know why. …LB Danny Clark missed the workout to attend a memorial for former Kansas City Chiefs coach Frank Gansz, who died in late April. …Robbins disclosed on his web site that he had microfracture surgery on his knee. Coughlin said he still is ahead of schedule in his recovery, but he would not say whether the veteran would be ready for training camp. …WR Domenik Hixon caught a long pass despite being grabbed by safety C.C. Brown.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.