New York Giants: Joe Judge confirms long term approach with Saquon Barkley

It’s well known by now that the New York Giants aren’t rushing back Saquon Barkley. The running back’s status has been in the news for months as his recovery is closely watched by fans and the national media, but even after all this time we still don’t have a definite return date. Barkley might be back for week one, or he might sit it out. Barkley claims he doesn’t know the future outcome himself, and the team has backed up that ‘day by day’ approach.

However, we now have some more official confirmation from Joe Judge himself about what the Giants are thinking with their strategy in regards to Barkley. Judge had an interview with ESPN and shot down the idea of planning Barkley’s return around an artificial timeline.

Judge’s statements on Barkley’s recovery

“We’re thinking long term with Saquon; long term in the season, long term in his career. And by taking care of him individually, that is going to help our team long term as well. We’re going to make sure when we get him out there we can keep him out there,” Judge told ESPN.

The long term approach isn’t what some fans will want. After all, the Giants struggled rushing last season without Barkley and moved on from top backup Wayne Gallman. If they don’t get Barkley back in the number one spot right away, the Giants may very well see their early season results impacted by having to rely on an unproven stable of new backups.

But we’ve more or less heard the same story from the Giants every time the issue of Barkley’s timeline comes up. It seems that, unpopular or not, the Giants are committed to the current plan.

“And we’ve got to make sure we do the best thing for him as we go along the way and make sure we make decisions based on his body and not some artificially anticipated timeline,” Judge continued. “When he’s ready to go, that is when he’s going to be out there.”

The hope is that Barkley will be ready to face the Broncos, but that looks like less of a certainty as the offseason continues. With so many statements like this, it’s possible that the franchise is well aware of that and is focused on priming the fanbase to not be alarmed if Barkley turns out to miss the opener.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley to begin training camp as Active/PUP

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are looking to get Saquon Barkley back for week one of the regular season, and training camp will be our best chance to see what condition the running back is in headed into September. However, Barkley isn’t starting as part of the active roster going into training camp. He’s beginning camp, along with five other players, on the active/physically unable to perform list.

The team announced that six players have been placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. They are running back Saquon Barkley (knee), center Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), tackle Matt Peart (back), tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot), linebacker Oshane Ximines (hamstring) and rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson (core muscle), the team’s third-round draft choice.

This is more or less the expected outcome. While Barkley’s progress in recovering has been good by all reports, the Giants are taking their time with bringing him back. He hasn’t even been confirmed for a week one return date yet, so it makes sense that the Giants aren’t rushing Barkley into participating in camp.

The Giants will have the right to activate Barkley from this list during training camp if they so choose. However, they’ll have to make a more firm decision when the final roster cut happens – at this point, the Giants will either have to activate Barkley or place him on the reserve list which would make him ineligible to return for the opening six weeks.

The second scenario looks pretty unlikely based on what we’ve seen so far with Barkley’s return. There haven’t been any visible setbacks, and it appears the cautious approach stems from a careful attitude rather than any real problem in Barkley’s recovery.

Barkley is far from the only player on the list right now, and some of the other names are notable ones.

Matt Peart is one that’s specifically worth noting, as he’s expected to compete with Nate Solder this offseason for a starting spot. Most project Peart as the starting right tackle of the Giants, so him starting off camp on the physically unable to perform list is worth noting.

The hope, of course, is that the Giants will get all of these players back on the active roster by the time the final cut is made. And for Barkley, there’s more pressure than ever for that return due to his integral role in the offense this season.

Giants’ Saquon Barkley details return from injury and status heading into training camp

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Despite coming off a torn ACL, MCL, and partially torn meniscus, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is still considered one of the best in the NFL. Having just one above-average season to his name, most view him as a game-breaking offensive weapon who can provide electric moments at any given moment.

However, Saquon has been rehabilitating the past few months from the brutal knee injury he suffered in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears last year. Luckily, it was early in the season, giving him plenty of time to recuperate and strengthen the ligaments ahead of the 2021 campaign. Posting workout videos and action shots of his progress, Barkley seems ready to take on a full workload at the start of the regular season, but the Giants will likely ease him into contact.

Barkley joined the Rich Eisen Show recently, and of course, was asked about his injury and expended timetable for return:

“I’m feeling good,” said Barkley. “I’m doing good, taking it day by day, trying to get one percent better every single day. I’m enjoying my time. Obviously, camp is approaching soon, so I’m enjoying time with my family and still trying to get the work in that I can before things ramp up.”

The New York Giants are gearing up for camp to start this week:

Training camp officially starts next Tuesday, where every player will be expected to arrive. On Wednesday, Rockies will report and quarterback/injured players on Thursday, which includes Barkley.

“My body tells me what it’s ready for the next day,” Barkley said. “That’s the only thing I can do. I can’t look too far [ahead], I have to take it one day at a time and keep that approach. Like I said, I’m very fortunate enough to have an amazing team, an amazing organization that listens to me, listens to my body, and is going to help me and do the right thing by me.”

The Giants have given Barkley everything he needs to return to normal, having played just 15 games the last two seasons. They know what he offers when fully healthy, though, a unique runner that amassed over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in his rookie season. Signing Kenny Golladay and drafting Kadarius Toney should allow Barkley to operate with less attention focused on stopping the run. The healthy blend of weapons will provide a better offense, as long as the protection scheme can take a step forward.

Saquon Barkley represents New York Giants in PFN top 100 list

The New York Giants aren’t the most represented team on top player lists, although they have improved in that regard this year. That’s understandable since the team’s record in the past few years has been less than outstanding. The Giants have had some big individual performances go under the radar simply because the team’s record hasn’t been good enough to attract widespread attention to them.

However, one name that has come up repeatedly on these lists is Saquon Barkley. Despite not playing most of last season due to injury, Barkley has found his way onto a few top 100 lists at this point including the one from Pro Football Network.

75) Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Saquon Barkley might be the most physically gifted football player in the world. Nobody his size should be able to move as he can. The knee injury he sustained in Week 2 of the 2020 season affected his ranking going into 2021. I wouldn’t expect the fourth-year player to be down this far on the list heading into 2022.

Barkley wasn’t as big a part of the passing attack in 2019 as he was as a rookie, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett loves using backs in the passing game. The young runner has insane big-play ability when in space. Using him as a pass catcher allows him a bit more freedom to use the vast creativity he possesses with the ball in his hands. If the Giants OL improves in 2021 and Barkley’s vision continues to progress, he could end up as a top-three running back in the league this season.

Assessing Saquon Barkley’s ranking

The addition of Barkley on this list over other Giants players such as James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, or Leonard Williams is surprising – he’s the only Giants player on the list, and it’s undeniable that others have done more for the team recently thanks to Barkley sitting out with an injury.

However, with Barkley’s higher name value around the league than these other players, it’s also not hard to see why he’s been favored in offseason articles like these compared to other players that mainly have a reputation with the Giants rather than nationally.

We’ll find out whether the ranking is deserved or not soon enough when the Giants take the field this season. We don’t know if Barkley will be available at the start, but given his importance to the Giants rushing attack, there will certainly be quite a lot of external pressure to play the entire year and justify the faith that the franchise and others have placed in him since his entry into the league.

Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley raves about Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Saquno Barkley

The New York Giants have made it a priority to inject the roster with high-quality people, let alone players. When they drafted Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018, they saw generational talent that coupled with a fantastic human being. Upgrading the roster also meant elevating the locker room and the leadership that quietly makes an impact behind the scenes.

While Barkley has been rehabilitating from a torn ACL, MCL, and partially torn meniscus, his spirits have been as high as ever. He spoke with Rich Eisen this past week, avoiding questions of his return and timetable for recovery, but was quick to rave about one of his teammates, quarterback Daniel Jones.

“I really don’t want to speak for Daniel, but just knowing Daniel, it is what it is. He has an amazing work ethic,” Barkley said. “I think anyone in the facility can see that clear as day. He’s a guy that’s going to come into work and is a guy that’s going to lead you and is a guy that’s going to compete. So I think that’s his mindset, is come in and try to get one percent better every day and lead this team.”

Jones had a bumpy start to his NFL career, showcasing his arm talent with 24 touchdowns in his rookie season before dropping to 11 this past year with a lack of playmakers and a debilitating hamstring injury.

The Duke product is hoping to take a step forward in the upcoming season after the Giants spent an egregious amount of funds to acquire Kenny Golladay in free agency and drafted Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Jones’s future success entirely relies on his protection scheme in the trenches, and the Giants didn’t do much to upgrade the unit aside from hiring two new couches consultant Pat Flaherty and OL coach Rob Sale. The expectation is that their young players on the line will see an increase in efficiency, specifically in pass blocking. If that ends up being the case, Jones will reap the rewards, with more time in the pocket to spread the ball to his playmakers.

Of course, the return of Barkley will have an immediate impact, drawing more attention from defenders in the box and allowing Jones to operate without additional blitzers being sent his way. If there’s anything we can guarantee, it is that his work ethic has helped him improve in various categories, but until we see him apply his talents during live-action, it’s all just hearsay.

New York Giants: How Saquon Barkley is going to make Daniel Jones better in 2021

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley

When the New York Giants selected Saquon Barkley 2nd overall in the 2018 NFL draft, they expected him to be far more than just a running back. They anticipated him being a bonafide superstar, running the ball with prowess while also offering receiving skills out of the backfield. Let alone is qualities as a leader.

During his rookie season, Barkley lived up to expectations, amassing 2,028 yards from scrimmage, including 1,307 on the ground, 721 through the air, and 15 total touchdowns. However, over the last two seasons, Barkley has played in just 15 games and is currently rehabilitating from a torn ACL, MCL, and partially torn meniscus. The Giants are still extremely high on the 24-year-old Penn State product and believe he will elevate the offense this upcoming season after the injection of more wide receiver talent.

How will Barkley impact Daniel Jones, though, increasing his production and efficiency in the passing game?

Barkley brings one underrated factor to the offense, attention. Defenses are forced to allocate multiple eyes and players on Saquon, who can break to the second level and take the ball to the house at any given moment. With his breakaway speed and incredible strength at the point of attack, Barkley is considered one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL when healthy.

Last season, when the Giants faced off against the Cleveland Browns, Kareem Hunt demanding attention from Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan. In fact, multiple defensive plays were dismantled due to the attention Kareem commanded. When you have a singular player that has an influence on the game such as that, it opens up the field for the alternative playmakers, and the Giants have plenty of them after signing in Kenny Golladay to a four-year deal and drafting Kadarius Toney in the first round.

So how will Barkley help Jones elevate his game?

Well, he will force defensive linemen and linebackers to always have his whereabouts in mind, which will take blitzers out of the box and force linebackers to stay at the second level. In addition, strong safeties will have to mirror Barkley’s movements, following him into the flats and on legitimate routes in the secondary (similar to how Jabrill was forced to cover Hunt last season). This will open up the field for players like Evan Engram, who love to dominate the seams and attack mismatches in the secondary. It should allow Jones more time in a pocket and weaker coverage on his receivers, theoretically increasing his completion percentage and WR catch rate.

Barkley will also impact the game on the ground, not just for himself but for Jones as well. The Giants loved using DJ on read-option plays last season, as he totaled 423 yards over 14 games. Creating confusion for defenses will be a priority next year in Jason Garrett’s scheme, and it starts with forcing defensive backs to step forward and play the run, baiting them into making premature decisions post-snap. This will also open up the play-action pass, and vertical threats with speedsters like John Ross and Darius Slayton — commanding attention at the line of scrimmage should force defenses to play with liabilities in the secondary — one deep safety, Cover-1 (expose verticals), and Cover-3 looks (attack seams and flats).

Defenses that are looking to play Cover-2 man will have a handful in the shorter portions of the field with Saquon as a running back and receiver, but also shifty pass-catchers like Sterling Shepard and Toney.

There is little doubt the offense will take a step forward and 2021. It is simply a matter of how much, which is entirely dependent on the performance of the offensive line.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley avoids going into specifics about comeback

Saquon Barkley’s comeback is one of the top storylines of the season for the New York Giants, but as of now, no one knows exactly when that date is going to be. An ACL tear, after all, is a major injury to recover from. As a key piece in the franchise’s future, the Giants aren’t in any mood to rush Barkley back and risk another injury that would keep him out for a long period again.

Figures associated with the Giants have said multiple times this offseason that the decision on Barkley’s comeback date is being left in the hands of the team doctors rather than the coaches. Barkley himself has kept to that same tune. During an interview with the Rich Eisen Show, Barkley didn’t have much to say when it comes to whether or not he’ll be on the field for the season opener.

Saquon Barkley unsure about return date

“Those are conversations I actually haven’t had yet, so far,” Barkley said when questioned directly about what his week one status would be. “The focus is, you know, take it one day at a time and kinda go with the flow and listen to your body… And listen to your trainers.”

“I think I know better than that,” he added, when asked to say something about the injury.

Much of the interview would go the same way, keeping the same tune that’s been maintained for most of the offseason. According to Barkley, his focus is on listening to his body – and his body is only speaking to him one day at a time.

Given that, we can expect the speculation to continue right up to the start of the season. Anyone hoping for a confirmation that Barkley will indeed be on the field from the start of the season will walk away disappointed, but at the very least, we know the Giants aren’t taking Barkley’s health lightly and risking another injury soon into the season.

New York Giants: What should we expect Saquon Barkley’s workload to look like come Week 1?

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Come the New York Giants’ 2021 season opener against the Denver Broncos on September 12, the expectation is that star running back Saquon Barkley will be nearly 100% healthy.

Barkley has been working diligently to rehabilitate a torn ACL, MCL, and partially torn meniscus from a Week 2 game against the Chicago Bears last year. Barkley missed the majority of the 2020 season with the injury, but he’s looking to make a heroic comeback, similar to his idol, Adrian Peterson.

The impact that Saquon has on the game is unparalleled, but he has struggled to remain healthy the past two seasons, playing a total of 15 games during that time span. During his most productive season in 2018, he recorded over 2000 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns, including 5.0 yards per carry.

Ultimately, without Barkley’s explosion and quick-twitch abilities, he’s not the same player, and that is the factor we should have our eyes on during training camp and preseason.

The New York Giants will be cautious with how quickly they move Barkley along:

There’s a solid chance Barkley doesn’t make an appearance during the preseason, waiting until Week 1 against Denver to showcase his qualities. However, based on how the coaching staff handled Xavier McKinney last year after he suffered a broken foot during training camp, Barkley’s usage could look something like this:

In week one, I would anticipate Barkley receiving about 10% of snaps on offense, gradually increasing over the next four weeks until he reaches 100% health. The idea is that even if Barkley is ready to roll, his body will need to adjust to football once again, coming off a significant injury — it is best to ease him into the starting unit rather than shock his newly restructured ligaments.

“I think it’s mostly his change of direction you’ll be looking at, but it’s also how explosive he looks,’’ Tiki Barber told The Post. “One of the things I always remember about Saquon is when he puts his foot down and he’s ready to go he’s out the door. I think his explosion will be something to keep an eye on.’’

The expectation is that Barkley will retain his explosion and power, but it will take time for him to regain his confidence regarding cutting and driving his leg into the turf, sometimes carrying bodies on his back.

The Giants made it a priority to sign Devontae Booker, who is more than capable of starting in the backfield for Big Blue while Saquon crawls his way back to form. Gradual inclusion is what we should anticipate, but as long as there are no significant setbacks, Barkley should make a full return and be his normal self by Week 6.

New York Giants: Revamped offense will help Saquon Barkley return to form

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants revamped their offense this offseason. Last year, the Giants had one of the worst offenses in the NFL. The team averaged only 17.5 points per game in 2020, ranking them second-to-last in the league. A major piece of the Giants’ offense was missing for the majority of last season.

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week 2, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Thus, New York was left without its best playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. The Giants’ receiving corps lacked talent and failed to create separation during route running. Ultimately, the Giants’ front office recognized these mistakes and moved to correct them in the offseason.

The Giants signed elite wide receiver Kenny Golladay to be their new alpha dog on the outside. They also added ankle-breaking slot receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. New York even went ahead and signed tight end Kyle Rudolph to bring some dependability to the position alongside the inconsistent Evan Engram.

The signing of Kenny Golladay makes other wide receivers like Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton better. Golladay being their primary receiver allows Shepard and Slayton to move into complementary roles, facing off against lesser competition at cornerback. Toney makes the Giants’ YAC game better and Rudolph makes the team’s short-to-intermediate receiving better, too. But overall, all these new additions will make Saquon Barkley better and allow him to return to form this season.

How Saquon Barkley benefits from the Giants’ new additions on offense

When fully healthy, Saquon Barkley is in consideration for the best running back in the NFL. In his 2018 rookie campaign, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage as one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers. He was a presence rushing and receiving out of the backfield. Saquon Barkley’s 2019 season was hampered by injuries but he was still a stellar back that rushed for over 1,000 yards.

At times in 2019, Barkley faced some stout defenses and struggled to find any rushing lanes. For example, in Week 10 of the 2019 season, Barkley rushed for 1 yard on 13 attempts against the New York Jets. 2019 was supposed to be Saquon’s year as he was the sole focal point of the offense. The team traded away its number one receiver Odell Beckham that offseason, leaving Barkley to be the offense’s one and only playmaker.

Running backs often struggle to succeed when there is a lack of talent around them. A top receiver outside can open things up for the rushing attack as opposing defenses key-in on the receiving threat, putting more defensive backs on the field and lining up with fewer stacked boxes.

The Giants’ influx of offensive talent should result in fewer stacked boxes against the team’s offense. Defenses did not respect the Giants’ receiving corps in 2020. Wayne Gallman, starting in place of the injured Saquon Barkley, faced 8+ defenders in the box on 40.14% of his rushing attempts (second-highest in the NFL). With more receiving threats for defenses to account for on the Giants’ offense, Saquon Barkley should see fewer stacked boxes and greater rushing opportunities.

New York Giants: Tiki Barber speaks on Saquon Barkley’s challenges

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

All eyes are on New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley this season. Not just Giants fans, but fans around the league in general are curious to see if Barkley will get back to his rookie season heights coming off a season taken away by injury. By all accounts, things have been going well so far with Barkley’s recovery. But until we see the player on the field, we can’t make a judgement for sure about how his season will go.

What exactly will define whether it’s a good or bad comeback for the Giants starter? According to Tiki Barber, much of it will come down to Barkley’s signature explosiveness and whether or not he can bounce back with the same form he showed early on.

“I think it’s mostly his change of direction you’ll be looking at, but it’s also how explosive he looks. One of the things I always remember about Saquon is when he puts his foot down and he’s ready to go he’s out the door. I think his explosion will be something to keep an eye on,” Barber told the New York Post.

Barber went on to say that Barkley probably won’t be as fast – but that this might not have the impact on his game that some are thinking. “I think it will slow him down and that will be a good thing. Will he be as fast? I don’t know, it’s a good question, and I don’t know if it matters, to be honest with you. Being a running back is not about straightaway speed like a wide receiver.”

According to Barber, Barkley will still be the kind of player that can run the full distance in the open field. Even if he’s not quite as fast.

Would Barkley slowing down his game be a good thing?

While Barkley has received widespread praise since coming into the league, one of the criticisms of his play is that he frequently looks for “home run” plays while passing up on chances to pick up a few yards less glamorously.

Barber’s prediction that Barkley will have to slow his game down could indeed be a good thing for solving this problem. After all, a player moving at a slower speed will have to think more about their actions and not rely as much on pure physicality.

That may be a good thing long term for Barkley’s career. At this point, he’s already been injured for two of his three seasons in the league, missing last season nearly entirely. His fearless play style helped make him popular in the first place, but many running backs in the past have shown that reckless running isn’t sustainable for a long career.

The Giants invested a lot in Barkley and will want him to perform for as long as possible. Given that context, it would make sense for the coaching staff to also welcome a change of pace for him come week one.

Until then, though, we won’t know for sure how aggressively Barkley will play in his return. There’s a lot riding on his performance, and if there’s one thing that Saquon Barkley is, it’s a staunch competitor. If he’s in a position to go full speed despite recovering from an injury, we may very well see him try it right from the start.