Barkley Silent on Possible Return for Season Opener


Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

As a highly touted rookie out of Penn State in 2018, Saquon Barkley ran through defenses at will, totaling 1307 yards and 11 touches. He added 721 yards and four scores in the air, leading the league with 2028 total yards from scrimmage. Oh, and maybe even more impressive, he didn’t fumble a single time in 352 touches.

Barkley was off to another good start in 2019 before a sprained ankle cost him three games. He returned to finish the season with 1003 rushing yards and over 1400 total yards from scrimmage.  

In a year that was different in so many ways due to COVID-19, it turned into a nightmare for Barkley. After less than two games and 34 rushing yards on 19 carries, Barkley’s season was done due to a torn ACL.  While Barkley is a supremely conditioned athlete and only 23 years old at the time of the injury, there were no guarantees how effective he’d be after returning from this devastating injury.

Nearly 11 months post-surgery and there is still no timetable to Barkley’s return. The good news is that he is making great progress, according to  Giants coach Joe Judge. During the second week of training camp, Judge used the term “tangible progress”, but didn’t want to make any forecasts or prognostications on Barkley. 

The team has mirrored his rehab to what players are doing on the field to make sure Barkley is increasing his intensity of his workouts at the same rate as his teammates. 

Natually the Giants are being cautious with Barkley, and even he himself has been quiet about his return. There is no way to know if he’s on schedule or behind in his rehab. Just about a month ago, Barkley gave a very vague “we’ll see” when asked if he’d be ready for the first game of the season.

Even the smallest amount of optimism opens the door a crack that Barkley could be on the field in the near future. From there, it will depend on quickly he progresses before he sees game action, whether opening day or thereafter.

To be on the safe side, the Giants have gone out and signed a veteran running back in Alfred Morris. The nine-year veteran played in nine games with the Giants last season, running for 238 yards on 55 carries.  Although clearly not Barkley, Morris has had ample success in the NFL, three times rushing for over 1000 yards, including 1613 as a rookie in 2012.  Also on the depth chart at running back are Devontae Booker, Corey Clement, Mike Weber, Gary Brightwell, and Sandro Platzummer, all fighting for a spot on the roster or practice squad.

Not only is it a wait and see as to when Barkley returns, the question is how well will he perform? It’s unusual for any athlete to be 100 percent during the first season back, particularly at a running back or receiver position. However, even 75 percent of Barkley is better than the vast majority of running backs in the NFL.

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