At 6-4, 266 pounds, former Giant Brandon Jacobs was more than just a big presence on the field.
He was also the unquestioned emotional leader, the man who when he spoke, everyone in the running backs meeting room stopped what they were doing to take notice.
In addition to wearing his heart on his sleeve, Jacobs, considered the "big brother" by his ex-teammates, was also like an extension of head coach Tom Coughlin who made sure his fellow running backs knew their assignments and were responsible.
"He was a big brother. He led me through so much, just about the game, about outside the game, about saving money, just a lot of different things," said Ahmad Bradshaw, whose locker was next to Jacobs' at the Timex Performance Center. "To go through this without him and him not being part of a team anymore and be there with me -- it's going to be tough."
"He really helped me become a man, become accountable and responsible," added D.J. Ware. "He was always on my tail every day about something and that something was to help me get better at my job and my life, and he helped me become a better person."
Perhaps one of Jacobs' biggest influences was on fullback Henry Hynoski, who last season was the only rookie to start on offense and who credited Jacobs for helping expedite his transition to the NFL.
"Brandon didn't treat me like a rookie," said Hynoski. "He made me adapt to the NFL lifestyle quicker than I normally would have because there's a certain charisma and swagger you have to carry yourself with. He told me that I had the potential to make the team and become a starter, so I had to carry myself as a starter."
With Jacobs having gone west to the 49ers, the "little brothers" he is leaving behind recognize that they have some big shoes to fill (pun intended) in their meeting room and on the field. At the same time, they are also confident that they will find the right balance of leadership to be successful.
"I've always considered myself a leader on the team, ever since I got a starting position," said Bradshaw, who will likely take over most of Jacobs' leadership role. "Ever since I've been a (rookie), I've had the respect from my teammates to state what I think should happen. I just plan on doing that a little more this year."
Others, like Ware, who admit to being more of the quiet type, said he plans to lead by example.
"I think you have to set an example for young guys because they learn by example," said Ware. "If they see guys slacking off, that's what they're going to want to do when they become four- or five-year veterans. I think it's important that you set the example that you have to work hard and commit to something before it's given to you, and I think guys will follow my lead."
Hynoski is also prepared to step up and be more of a vocal leader within the structure as well.
"Now that I have a year in the NFL under my belt, it's definitely a challenge that I'm ready to take on," he said. "I'm always willing to help my teammates however I can just so they can get the extra edge mentally, and I definitely feel ready and I have a lot of natural leadership skills just waiting to come out."
With the Giants' running backs likely headed toward a leadership-by-committee approach, Hynoski noted that as long as everyone who talks the talk, walks the walk, the unit would be fine.
"You can never have enough good leaders, but you have to lead the right way," he said. "People can talk all they want, but if they don't lead by example, what good is it?"
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