New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has suffered multiple serious injuries to his right leg. Ranging from ankle sprains to torn ligaments in his knee, Barkley has been chasing his 2018 season in the face of adversity.
During his rookie campaign, Barkley produced over 2000 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and earning a Pro Bowl nod. However, he has struggled to build on top of that lone star-studded campaign, producing 593 yards on the ground and 263 receiving last season under the leadership of former head coach Joe Judge.
The 2021 season presented Barkley’s first year coming off of a significant knee injury. In Week 2 of the 2020 campaign, Barkley suffered a torn ACL and MCL strain. It took him a year to make a return to the football field in a competitive matter, but Barkley is finally starting to trust his knee again two years removed from the injury.
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“I feel a lot better than I felt at this point last year,” Barkley said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “My body feels good. I’m trusting my knee again.”
Barkley is expected to play a pivotal role in the Giants’ new offensive system, spearheaded by former Buffalo Bills OC Brian Daboll and Kansas City Chiefs offensive assistant Mike Kafka.
The Giants’ offense is about to change drastically:
Daboll and Kafka will likely build a mesh concept between a West Coast and Spread Offense, which will look to get playmakers into open space and let them generate production with their athleticism. So far, Barkley has done everything asked, and Daboll expressed his appreciation recently.
“He’s been good. He’s been able to do everything we’ve asked him to do. . . . The routes we’re asking him to run, his quickness, his ability to get in and out of breaks, his long speed. It’s all good,” Daboll said, via SNY.
The expectation is that Saquon will be heavily involved in the receiving game after years of poor usage from Jason Garrett. Barkley produced 721 yards receiving during his rookie season. Since then, over the span of three years, he’s only generated 761 yards through the air. If you take a look at how the Chiefs utilize their running backs, they normally get them heavily involved in the receiving game.
However, Barkley has every tool a coach looks for in a running back. He can run for power, speed, and agility while utilizing his hands as a receiver.
In the final year of his rookie contract, the Giants are looking to extract every last ounce of quality before they have to make a difficult decision on his future. Either they can extend him or allow him to walk, taking a far more cost-efficient approach toward the running back position.
If he manages a resurgent 2022 season, the decision will be even more difficult for new general manager Joe Schoen, who normally doesn’t subscribe to paying elite running backs big money.