For Giants running back Saquon Barkley, the 2021 narrative was very similar to that of the previous two seasons – flashes of brilliance overshadowed by injuries. After slowly coming out of the gates to start the campaign, the former NFL rookie of the year appeared to be regaining his pre-injury form, an average of 110 yards from scrimmage and a total of three touchdowns from Week 3 through Week 4. Suffering a sprained ankle in Big Blue’s week 5 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Barkley has since been sidelined for each of the team’s last four games.
On Monday, November 15, after an extra week to recover from the parting, Barkley returned to the practice field looking like himself. The 24-year-old moved around the field and with little to no restriction according to ESPN’s Jordan Raananrealistic hope ”of playing the Tampa Bay Buccanneers next Monday night.
Head coach Joe Judge echoed Engram’s opinion on the Giants running back, noting that connecting Barkley with the team from offside was crucial because “he is an impressive player for us on and off the field. He did a great job in terms of leadership, staying active as a captain on the team and in the captains’ meetings. He’s got a lot of great insight into what’s going on in the locker room for me, a lot of relevant feedback that I need, so he did a great job in that regard. “
While signs of a return for the former # 2 overall in Week 11 suggest a return, Judge has been his typical self while discussing Barkley’s injury status, and he sure won’t get too overzealous on the matter.
As for Saquon, he’s going to be out here today doing a few things with us and we’ll see how that fits in as the week goes on. He lost a lot last week because he didn’t have the availability of the COVID stuff, “Richter said, highlighting Barkley’s false-positive test that took away his training time before the Raiders game on week 9. I wouldn’t say that I shrink him physically, but about his schedule and not keeping him ready for this game. But optimistic that we will have him outside today and see how he moves. “
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In Barkley’s absence, the Giants have split their four games down the middle and set a record of 2-2. Veteran Devontae Booker has made up the majority of the gap in the backcourt with Barkley and has hit the ball 76 times in team highs since week 6. In his last two appearances, Booker has been fairly productive, averaging nearly 124 yards to scrimmage.
If Booker doesn’t miss out on time with a hip injury – which isn’t expected – Booker and Barkley could be well on their way to a timeshare.
“These two-man monster teams are difficult to master,” announced Judge on November 8th. “Of course that wouldn’t stop us from figuring out ways to get Saquon the ball, that will always be a main point, just like with all of our other playmakers, but along the way you want to have a lot of depth in those positions to move on to play and keep them fresh. “