Giants’ Saquon Barkley looking to get his ‘burst’ back in 2023

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The New York Giants have just ten days left to strike a deal with superstar running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants placed the franchise tag on Barkley back in February to give them extra time to work toward a long-term extension. The deadline to sign a tagged player to a multi-year extension is July 17th and there is “some level of optimism” that the two sides can get a deal done in time.

Meanwhile, Barkley is hard at work, preparing for the upcoming 2023 season. Despite being unable to attend OTAs and minicamp, Barkley has been training with teammates this offseason. He has also been training with pro elite performance specialist Nicholas Hill this offseason. Hill recently spoke to the New York Post about Barkley’s offseason training regimen, saying that the star rusher has “never felt better or faster running routes.”

Saquon Barkley training intensely away from the Giants’ facilities

After bursting onto the season as a rookie in 2018, the next three seasons of Barkley’s career were hampered by injuries; the most significant of which being the torn ACL he suffered in Week 3 of the 2020 season. Since that injury, Barkley has fought to bounce back and regained his form this past season, totaling a new career-high 1,312 rushing yards in 2022. Yet, Barkley still felt like he was missing a gear this season.

“He feels like he is 100 percent from the knee injury, but there’s still that little bit of another gear that he felt like he was missing,” Hill said to The Post. “He definitely has that gear right now. The players did their throwing camp in Charlotte last week, and he said he’s never felt better or faster running routes.”

Barkley getting back his breakaway speed

Of the many goals Barkley has set for himself this offseason, one of the biggest is to “get back his speed burst that he felt like he had his rookie year,” according to Hill. In 2018, Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards, including league-highs with 16 runs of 20+ yards and seven runs of 40+ yards.

Barkley’s breakaway speed was part of what made him such an elite player as a rookie. Many fans began to question whether or not Barkley still had that step after he was caught from behind on a 39-yard rushing attempt against the Eagles in the postseason; had he gotten away from that final defender, the play could have been a game-changing 80-yard touchdown run.

“Oh, [that play] stuck with him,” Hill said. “We talked about that play very early on. He’s a phenomenal athlete, very confident, but also self-aware. He understands the areas he needs to improve and attacks them head-on. For the first 2-to-3 months, the big focus was straight-ahead linear speed.”

Is Barkley benefitting from being away from the Giants’ organized training?

Barkley was unable to attend the Giants’ OTAs in June because he is technically not under contract with the team. Barkley has yet to sign his franchise tender, registering him prohibited from training at the Giants’ facilities.

Hill provided a unique perspective on the situation, saying Barkley has been able to focus more on the specificities of his training regimen while away from the Giants’ facilities.

“If you are in OTAs, you do everything the team is doing,” Hill said. “Whereas I think this has been a really good offseason for him to focus on him because he got to be so specific with his training. When you have an athlete of his caliber, you want to be able to fine-tune a Ferrari.”

Barkley is staying motivated and ready to return to the team

Despite being away from the team, Barkley is still training hard and motivated to rush toward success in 2023:

There is no lack of motivation, but I don’t know if there has ever been a lack of motivation … not just for himself but for the team. I know he was hurting not to be at OTAs, but he is continuing his work so when the time comes and all that business is out of the way, there will be no falling back with him.

Nicholas Hill on Saquon Barkley via the New York Post
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