Giants Starter Sends Message to Saquon Barkley After Missing Multiple Games

Evan Engram sends message to Saquon Barkley

Getty Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants carries the ball during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons.

For Giants running back Saquon Barkley, the narrative in 2021 has been vastly similar to that of the past two seasons — flashes of brilliance overshadowed by injuries. After coming out the gates slow to start the campaign, the former NFL Rookie of the Year looked to be re-capturing his pre-injury form, averaging 110 yards from scrimmage and totaling three touchdowns from Week 3 through Week 4. However, an ankle sprain suffered in Big Blue’s Week 5 loss to the Dallas Cowboys has since sidelined Barkley for each of the team’s past four games.

On Monday, November 15th, after an extra week to heal up thanks to the bye, Barkley returned to the practice field, looking like his old self. The 24-year-old was moving around the field with little to no limitation and according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan has a “realistic hope” to play next Monday night vs. the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. 

“It’s awesome. Just to have his presence – even in the huddle – it’s awesome,” tight end Evan Engram said of Barkley returning to practice. “He’s probably our biggest leader, our biggest captain. It’s just good to have him back. I know he’s been itching to get back, so he’s going to stay the course and keep working and keep doing what he can to be ready.”

Joe Judge Weighs in on Barkley

Head coach Joe Judge echoed Engram’s sentiment on the Giants running back, noting that it has been crucial to keep Barkley involved with the team even when sidelined because “he’s an impact player for us on and off the field. He’s done a great job as far as leadership, staying active as a captain on the team and active in the captains’ meetings. He has a lot of great insight into what’s going on in the locker room for me, a lot of pertinent feedback that I need, so he’s done a great job as far as that’s concerned.”

While signs point towards a return for the former No. 2 overall pick in Week 11, Judge was his typical self while discussing Barkley’s injury status, sure not to get too overzealous on the matter.

“In terms of Saquon, he’ll be out here today doing some stuff with us and we’ll see how that kind of builds in throughout the rest of the week. He lost a lot last week not having the availability with the COVID stuff,” said Judge, highlighting Barkley’s false-positive test that stripped him of practice time leading up to the Raiders game in Week 9. “That set him back a little bit – I wouldn’t say set him back physically, but in terms of his timetable and not having him ready for that game. But, optimistic we’ll have him out there today and see how he moves.”

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Timeshare Incoming?

In Barkley’s absence, the Giants have split their four games down the middle, mustering up a record of 2-2. Veteran Devontae Booker has picked up the majority of the slack in the backfield with Barkley sidelined, touching the ball a team-high 76 times since Week 6. Over his last two outings, Booker has been rather productive, averaging nearly 124 yards from scrimmage.

Barring Booker missing time with a hip injury — which he isn’t expected to — Booker and Barkley could be headed for a timeshare moving forward.

“Those two-headed monster teams are tough to face,” Judge proclaimed on November 8th. “Obviously, that wouldn’t take us out of finding ways to get Saquon the ball, that’s always going to be a main point of it just as it would for all our other playmakers, but along the way you want to have a lot of depth at those positions to keep playing and have them fresh.”


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