New York Giants: Will Saquon Barkley’s backups return this season?

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants had a tough time in 2020 at the running back spot. Saquon Barkley went down quickly with an injury, and new signing Devonta Freeman would also end up spending time out injured and ultimately never did much with the team. It took the Giants some time to figure out the running game last year, but they ultimately finished in a better place than they started through the first few weeks.

This season, though, we might not see the same running backs that took most of the snaps this year for the Giants. Wayne Gallman is an unrestricted free agent. So is Alfred Morris, who had the second most rushing yards out of Giants running backs.

Wayne Gallman

2020 was the best year of Wayne Gallman’s career. Going into the season, there were some questions about whether the Giants even needed him. After all, his performance hadn’t been anything exceptional in past seasons and Barkley was starting ahead of him. But then, Barkley went down and everything changed.

With the Giants needing a running back and not finding their man in either Devonta Freeman or Dion Lewis, Gallman stepped up as the option already on the roster. He had 682 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in 15 games played – 10 of them being starts. That’s a career high, and it’s thanks to Gallman that Daniel Jones didn’t finish as the team’s lead rusher.

The Giants might be interested in bringing Gallman back, but he’s an unrestricted free agent and looks like one of the most likely Giants to leave. His rookie deal is over and coming off the strongest year of his career, the Giants will have to pay him more to keep him around.

It’s unlikely the Giants have to lean on their backup running backs as heavily again this season, when Barkley returns – it’s hard to see them paying up instead of trusting that Barkley won’t be injured and bringing in a cheaper replacement.

Alfred Morris

Alfred Morris was the second leading Giants running back last season. While he didn’t put up the same kind of numbers Gallman did, he added to the team’s efforts with 238 rushing yards in 9 appearances. He’s also an unrestricted free agent this season.

However, unlike Gallman, it looks like there’s a stronger chance we could see Morris in blue again this season.

Morris played out the season on a one year deal and the Giants had to pay him less than they paid Gallman, with a cap hit of only $352k. He’s an older player that will be 33 this season, but that may not be so much of a problem for the Giants assuming Barkley isn’t injured again.

It’s clear that the Giants are better when they can run the ball often and not put all the pressure on Daniel Jones. And we can expect Barkley to take a lot of those snaps. The Giants need backup running backs to relieve the load, not take it over entirely.

Therefore, with Gallman likely to leave and the Giants having no clear number one backup, it looks like a likely outcome to see them bring back Alfred Morris on another small deal while also potentially bringing in a back through a later draft round or free agency to add to the competition.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley shares early Joe Judge experience

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Joe Judge has gotten a chance to work with New York Giants back Saquon Barkley for one season, and has made a good impression so far. Of course, the bulk of that season was spent with Barkley sitting out because of an ACL tear. The injury came quickly into the year and forced the Giants to change their strategy on offense all around. It was also a big blow to the overall hopes of the Giants for winning in Judge’s first season.

But despite spending most of the year recovering, Barkley was able to get a good impression of his new head coach. He said as much when speaking to the AP Pro Football Podcast, where he spoke about his injury and recovery recently.

Barkley tells an early story about Joe Judge

The conversation led to the subject of Joe Judge and Barkley’s initial impressions.

“When he came in and gave his speech, he let everyone know he was about business. When I first met him, I couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. It was like I was talking to a sergeant. And through time, when you got to see him, he got to show his personality, even through Zoom,” Barkley said.

“When I got hurt, I was trying to be this tough guy and stay strong in the locker room. And then I kind of started breaking down in front of him. He looked me in the eye and told me, ‘It’s going to be one hell of a story.’ And that’s the type of guy he is. He’s got your back and he’s a guy that’s for his players, and he’s a guy who is going to push you and get the best out of you no matter what.”

The difference between the Giants under Judge and the previous administration has been night and day. That seems clear with both player reactions and fan sentiment. There’s more reason to be optimistic going into next season than there was after Pat Shurmur’s first year as head coach. And for many of the young players on the Giants, last season was the closest they came to being on a winning team.

We haven’t gotten to see what Barkley can do under a new head coach and offensive coordinator yet – but that’s the hope for 2021. So far, it looks like Barkley will definitely be back on the field in week 1 barring a surprise setback.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley provides injury update

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

When New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley went down with a torn ACL in week two against the Chicago Bears this past season, the offense was immediately castrated. He was considered the most lethal threat, with his ability to break long runs and put points on the board at any moment. Looking back at his rookie season in 2018, Barkley played in all 16 games, recording 2028 yards from scrimmage. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground and 4 through the air.

There is no question that Barkley has the ability to be one of the best players in the NFL, but returning from a torn ACL is easier said than done. Plenty of players have done it in the past and returned to have fantastic careers, notably Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook. However, it is different for every player, and there’s no guarantee Saquon will ever be the same on the football field.

Nonetheless, modern medicine gives him a very good chance to make a full recovery and regain his form, but it will take him time to regain his strength and learn how to juke, cut, and exercise his strengths to perfection.

Barkley recently updated the media on his rehabilitation, and all seems to be going well at this point.

“I’m doing really well in rehab,” Barkley said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. “Very lucky to have a great team around me, great trainers, great doctors. Everyone has been very beneficial to me and very helpful to me. So whenever the opportunity I’m able to get back on the football field with my team, I’m definitely going to cherish that moment, and I just honestly can’t wait for that day to happen soon.”

An injury of his nature usually takes an entire year to return from, so the expectation is that he will be prepared to start the 2021 season. Of course, the Giants will likely take it easy for the first few weeks as he regains his legs, but overcoming the mental aspect of tearing an ACL can oftentimes be the most challenging hurdle.

“You have to start all over, and you have to teach yourself how to walk, jog, run, sprint, cut, and all that stuff again,” Barkley said. “But the mental part, especially when I hurt myself, at the moment I felt I was letting all my teammates down. To watch those guys on Sundays was very emotional. But everything happens for a reason. I have to continue to work. You control the things I can control and let the rest take over.”

The New York Giants need to add more talent on offense:

The reality is, Barkley has only played in 15 games over the past two years, which might justify the narrative that drafting running backs in the first round is never a good idea. They are the most injured position, and Barkley is proving the naysayers right at this point. That doesn’t make him any less a part of this offense, as they desperately need him to return if they want to have an elite running game in 2021.

The Giants will likely allocate resources toward bolstering the offense this off-season, which should take some pressure off of Barkley moving forward.

New York Giants: Ottis Anderson on one thing Wayne Gallman does better than Barkley

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

Saquon Barkley will be the starting running back for the New York Giants barring another injury before this season. However, there’s a thing or two that he could learn from Wayne Gallman, who ended up winning the starting spot in his absence. That’s what former Giants running back and Super Bowl XXV MVP Ottis Anderson believes, at least.

Anderson spoke on the Valentine’s Views podcast and talked about the Giants running game, particularly their main backs Saquon Barkley and Gallman.

What can Barkley learn from Gallman?

“I’ve said for a long time the Giants should never get rid of that kid. I’m glad they kept him around because he’s very valuable and I love what he’s done. He’s a one-cut and take what you give. He’s not trying to hit the home run every time he gets the ball in his hands. That’s the difference between him and Barkley,” Anderson said about Gallman.

He also compared the situation to his own career and spoke about thinking of every play as a home run. That’s a tendency that Barkley has, which has sometimes resulted in great plays but other times in lost yardage. According to Anderson, the Giants should sit Barkley down to look at Gallman’s film. Despite being the less flashy and athletic back of the two, Gallman found his own success last season on shorter gains.

Gallman played in 15 games and had a career high 682 yards last season. He mainly filled in for Barkley after Barkley was taken out for the season with an ACL tear in his second game. As a free agent, it remains to be seen where Gallman will end up – but he could very well leave the Giants and cash in on his talents with a team looking to bring in a running back.

It would be a loss for the Giants, but an understandable one. It’s hard to ask Gallman to stick with his current role as the second back behind Barkley after the best year of his career.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. to link up in ACL rehab

Saquon Barkley

The season ended early for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. While Barkley came into the year with big expectations, he was out only a couple games in thanks to an ACL tear. The injury would put him out for the entire season and Barkley is currently at the phase of rehabbing. If that rehab goes well, everyone is hoping Barkley can be a full speed player come the 2021 season.

Another player recovering from the same injury, however, is former Giant Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham’s time in Cleveland since being traded has been far from perfect. The latest in a line of problems is that injury, which cut his season down to 7 games and saw him match his career low in touchdowns.

It looks like the two players are set to link up as they both rehab from similar injury situations.

“Only thing I do know that I have planned for sure, I’m definitely going to link up with [Odell],” Barkley told ESPN in an interview. “Obviously Odell tore his knee a little too. I think we both need just being there. We’re really good friends. Competing with each other and pushing each other will also be good too. That’s the only thing I know for certain I will do. Everything else is up in the air.”

Many consider the Giants to have won the Odell Beckham trade. Not because Beckham doesn’t have raw talent, but because various circumstances like this have prevented him from playing to his fullest potential in Cleveland. And it seemingly didn’t take long for Beckham to get involved in organizational drama in Cleveland, either.

But the trade hasn’t stopped Barkley from working with Beckham.

“Every year we always link up with him at some point, somewhere. Definitely going to find a way to link up.”

He mentioned the possibility of getting other injured players involved, such as Bengals QB Joe Burrow.

Injuries have affected many players around the league, and Barkley is one of the ones who has been impacted the most over the past couple of seasons. It’s put a big dent on his overall numbers, but fans will still be holding out hope that in 2021 Barkley can return to his healthy standard. After all, when he first showed up, it looked like a fully healthy Barkley would completely change the game for the Giants.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley in John Mara’s future plans

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

2020 wasn’t the best year for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants were expected to lean on Barkley last year due to the lack of a real number one receiver and the presence of a still developing quarterback in Daniel Jones, but their plans were quickly shaken up when Barkley tore his ACL. The injury put him out for the year, and his future with the team is unclear.

The Giants will have Barkley back next season, of course – but it’s unclear what the plan with his contract situation is. The Giants have a fifth year option to keep Barkley after the 2021 season, and have the option of keeping him with the franchise tag beyond that, but the team hasn’t said too much yet about their plans in that area. Until now, that is.

When speaking to the media on Wednesday, co-owner John Mara confirmed that Barkley is part of the franchise’s plans.

“I certainly expect him to be a Giant for a very long time,” Mara said, in a statement that should shut down Barkley trade talks before they happen this offseason.

“He’s such an important part of this team, not only for what he does on the field but the leadership and all of the intangibles he brings to us off the field. That was really a gut-punch,” Mara continued, speaking on Barkley’s injury this season. “Listen, I’m still happy that we have him. I think knowing him, he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be a big part of this team next year. In terms of what the time table is, it’s hard to predict that right now.”

Barkley only played in two games this season and finished with 34 yards. He was only able to rack up 19 rushing attempts in the process. The Giants brought in Devonta Freeman following his injury and gave more playing time to Wayne Gallman, but much of their hopes in 2021 certainly rest on Barkley having a good comeback season.

Playing running back by committee was nearly good enough to get the Giants into the playoffs in 2020 – but next year, the Giants can’t expect as much luck to fall their way to keep them in the race.

Barkley is the team’s best offensive player, and the Giants will need him to play like that after his recovery this year.

New York Giants: All aboard the Wayne Train

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants are 4-7, sitting atop the lowly NFC East and firmly in the playoff picture. The Giants’ defense has been the true strength of this team. Patrick Graham’s defense has been phenomenal all season long and has kept the Giants in games and even won them games this season.

But the Giants’ offense has improved drastically in recent weeks. After looking like a futile group in the first few weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Jason Garrett’s offense has really turned things around. The key to the offense’s improvement: an efficient running game.

Many presumed the Giants’ offense to be dead after losing Saquon Barkley in the second week of the 2020 NFL season. But, in actuality, the terrible loss of Saquon Barkley has opened things up for the emergence of Wayne Gallman. Gallman was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He struggled to win meaningful reps in the first three seasons of his career. But, in 2020, with Saquon Barkley placed on injured reserve, Wayne Gallman has taken full advantage of his opportunity to flourish.

All Aboard the Wayne Train

Wayne Gallman has provided the Giants’ offense with the exact thing it was missing: efficiency. Gallman might not be the big, home-run hitter that other running backs may be. But Gallman is a strong, patient, and efficient runner that has been very productive as a starter this season.

The Wayne Train has been running at full steam over the past five games. Wayne Gallman has reached the end zone in five consecutive games, the longest streak by a Giants player since Saquon Barkley scored touchdowns in five consecutive games from Sept. 23-Oct. 22, 2018. He is the first Giants player to rush for a touchdown in five consecutive games since Andre Brown had a streak of six straight games in 2012-13 (Giants.com).

Gallman is coming off of a career-day versus Cincinnati in Week 12. Wayne ran for a career-high 94 rushing yards on Sunday on 24 rushing attempts. He also added one rushing touchdown. This is the highest volume of single-game rushing attempts that Gallman has received in his young career and he took full advantage of it.

Wayne Gallman is averaging an impressive 4.0 yards per attempt this season. The Wayne Train has totaled 6 rushing touchdowns this season. Gallman has started each of the last four games for New York and has worked well as the lead back in the Giants’ running back by committee approach with Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis.

Gallman and the Giants’ offense have a tough matchup ahead of them, traveling to Seattle for an afternoon matchup with the Seahawks on Sunday. The Seahawks have a historically bad pass defense. But, their run defense has been one of the best in the NFL this year. Seattle is allowing only 89.3 rushing yards per game this season, the third-lowest average of any team in the league. New York needs more efficient and productive running out of the Wayne Train this week in order to come out of Seattle with an underdog victory.

New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley has ‘no doubt’ he will make full recovery

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

If there’s any player capable of making a full return from an ACL and MCL tear, it is New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The former second overall pick is considered one of the most dynamic and electric running backs in the NFL, and the hope is that he can return to for despite a season-ending injury.

Looking at players like Adrian Peterson, who returned from an ACL tear in great shape, Barkley has been in contact with the Hall of Fame running back and the rehabilitation program he utilized to get back into shape.

When asked by reporters if he feels he will make a full recovery, Barkley stated:

“No doubt in my mind.”

“I’m never going to go into anything with a negative approach,” Barkley said. “My mindset is going to be what gets you through a lot of things in life. I just think I know that I’ll be able to come out of this a better player. I know that starts with today, in rehab, and continue to push myself.

Ligament damage is always problematic since they never managed to heal stronger than bone. However, if he is having his entire ACL replaced and re-constructed, it is possible the knee could be even stronger than before.

“Sometimes they say when they do ACL reconstruction, your ACL becomes 10 times stronger. I’m just trying to come in with the mindset of getting one percent better every single day.”

The New York Giants and Saquon have a contract to think about:

With a massive contract in his future, Barkley isn’t focused on money. After this injury, the star back still needs to prove his worth and justify spending a lucrative amount on his services. The Giants certainly aren’t thinking about that at the moment, and while he would’ve demanded a massive contract earlier than his fifth-year option, it seems as if he’s going to have to play his rookie deal out and its entirety.

“I don’t really focus on it,” Barkley said. “I’m not really focused on money right now. I’m just focused on trying to come in every single day and get 100 percent better. Whenever that day is, I can be ready to come back and be ready for my team.”

Barkley has the right mentality when it comes to his rehabilitation, but that doesn’t mean he’s not rooting for his team in the meantime. Fourth-year back Wayne Gallman has taken over the reins in his absence.
Gallman has touchdowns in five consecutive games and has earned 369 rushing yards this year on 4.0 yards per attempt. Barkley is his biggest fan, stating: “Wayne Train, so proud of him.”
Overall, it seems as if Barkley is in high spirits and is spending plenty of time around the team to keep them motivated and focused. He is a leader in the locker room as well as on the field, making his voice more important than ever.

New York Giants: The two RBs backing up Devonta Freeman

The New York Giants responded to the Saquon Barkley injury by signing Devonta Freeman. The former Falcons running back looks to be their starter for the rest of the year as Barkley’s ACL recovers. However, Freeman is one running back in a rotation of multiple. With the team’s best player out, it’s reasonable to assume the Giants will give more touches to their backup backs this year.

Who is manning those backup spots? Largely, that’s one new signing and one player that’s been with the Giants for the past three seasons.

Dion Lewis

Former Patriots and Titans running back Dion Lewis was signed during the offseason by the Giants. At the time, it appeared he was just a backup to Saquon Barkley. In this role, Lewis looked like a pretty good fit. After all, he had rushed for nearly 900 yards during his best season and while his performance fell off more recently, the Giants didn’t need him for a large role.

But Lewis might be getting more touches than expected thanks to the team’s current situation. This may be a chance for him to help revive his career. It’s been trending backwards for the past couple of seasons, but we have yet to see much of Lewis as a Giant.

During the 2019 season he fell from 517 yards to 209 while competing with Derrick Henry. It’s hard to tell just how much of that is because of Lewis himself, though. After all, Henry would be considered stiff competition to any back in the league.

In his two appearances for the Giants, Lewis has 11 rushes and 21 yards so far. Not the greatest numbers, but those may see a change. Lewis hardly would have expected to fill in for Saquon Barkley full time in week two against the Bears, but that’s what ended up happening. Presumably, being more mentally in the game next time will prevent such bad numbers in yards per carry.

Wayne Gallman

The other main option behind Devonta Freeman is Wayne Gallman. Gallman actually predates Barkley but he’s only shown flashes of potential, never starring for the Giants. Still, there’s something impressive about his ability to avoid the cut. Even this season when the Giants brought in Lewis, Gallman was able to keep his job for another year.

With no Barkley in the picture and an unfamiliar free agent as the starter, Gallman may get a chance to touch the ball more – at least to trial his skills and see if he’s worth putting in the rotation. He had 476 rushing yards in 2017 but was never able to repeat the performance as Barkley came in and took over the top spot.

The following seasons, Gallman had 176 and 110 yards. Not enough to stand out, but those numbers have been enough to allow him to keep his job. Gallman only has one carry this season so far, in the opener. That was a 14 yard run, but peculiarly, he received no carries against Chicago even after Barkley was hurt.

Don’t expect Gallman to become the main option – but this season may just be a chance for him to justify his continued presence as a backup.

New York Giants confirm ACL tear for Saquon Barkley, what’s next?

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The moment New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley fell to the ground in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, his face told the story.

After taking off his helmet and grimacing with severe pain, Barkley clutched his right knee. Everyone’s worst fears became a reality on Monday, as the Giants confirmed an ACL tear that will keep Barkley out for the entire 2020 season. He will now begin rehabilitating for 2021, coming off a significant high ankle sprain that limited him to 13 games in 2019.

The Giants have no choice but to move forward without their allusive and electric running back, and they will need to find a supplement in the meantime.

They’ve already scheduled a visit for free agent Devonta Freeman, who spent the last six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. At 28 years old, he’s coming off a season with 656 yards on the ground and 410 through the air. He is a solid running back who could fill a major void for the Giants immediately. However, the loss of Barkley is a big one and will undoubtedly limit their offensive capabilities.

Quarterback Daniel Jones hasn’t enjoyed a full game with his entire arsenal of weapons since his inception in the NFL last year. A poor offensive line and lack of talent around him has severely limited his progression up to this point. Hopefully, he can return to full health and pick up where he left off next year.