Giants Make Decision on Potentially Shutting Down Saquon Barkley for Rest of Season

Giants address potentially shutting down Saquon Barkley

Getty New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley.

After suffering a torn ACL in September of the 2020 regular season, Saquon Barkley took to Instagram to ensure his followers that his comeback was “gonna be a hell of a story.” However, 16 weeks into the 2021 campaign, and Barkley’s return to the gridiron has been anything but that. In fact, his comeback has far more resembled a horror story as opposed to any sort of fairytale. 

The former NFL Rookie of the Year has looked like a shell of his once Pro Bowl self. Battling through an ankle injury and operating behind one of the league’s more incompetent offensive line units, Barkley’s production has plummeted to all-time lows. Through 11 games, the 24-year-old Bronx native is averaging a career-worst 3.5 yards per carry, and he’s failed to top 64 yards in any contest this season. Furthermore, he’s found the endzone just twice as a runner over his last 13 contests and — to a budding group of viewers — has become the inferior option in the Giants backfield when compared to veteran Devontae Booker.

With the arrow pointing down on Barkley, and the Giants in the midst of yet another lost season, whispers of the team shutting down their former No. 2 overall pick for the remainder of the year have begun to surface. However, Barkley was quick to refute that notion while speaking with reporters on December 29, noting that he’s had “no” thought about potentially sitting out the last two games, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Daily News.

Joe Judge Dismisses Idea of Shutting Barkley Down

Barkley’s comments were further built upon from head coach Joe Judge, who was asked by reporters whether the running back’s recent play has led to any consideration of the team shutting down Barkley in hopes of assuring he’s back to full health come next season.

“In terms of shutting him down for the year deal, that’s more something that our medical team has not approached me about. At this moment, there wouldn’t be any medical reason, at least that they brought to me, about shutting him down,” said Judge. “Anytime we have those conversations that’s for a player’s immediate and long-term health consideration — In terms of the long-term question for the rest of the year, no one on our medical staff has talked to me about anything related to that at this point.”

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Judge on Barkley: ‘I’ve Seen a Lot of Flashes’

While the team and Barkley evidently plan on him suiting up for the final two weeks of the season, the running back continues to be hobbled by a nagging ankle injury suffered way back in Week 5. Barkley was one of nine players not to participate at Wednesday’s walkthrough.

“I know Saquon has been battling through a number of things this year. Came off a traumatic injury last year – that’s a tough recovery. He’s dealt with a number of other things, as well. The ankle in the Dallas game, that’s really been lingering throughout the year,” Judge noted. “I see this guy go through a lot of things preparation-wise in the week, treatment-wise, and extra recovery-wise trying to get his body back to it.”

Prior to sustaining the ankle injury, Barkley began to show glimpses of his prior game-changing form. In the two games before the Dallas loss, Barkley amassed a total of 220 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Yet, his production has since plummeted since returning to action in Week 11. Most recently, Barkley mustered up just 32 yards rushing on 15 carries against the Eagles in Week 16 — a season-low 2.13 yards per carry.

Still, Judge is optimistic about Barkley’s recent efforts.

“I’ve seen a lot of flashes lately that this guy has really had some good games for us in previous weeks, and he’s out there battling and playing really hard and going through some tough circumstances,” Judge said. “He’s out there, he’s playing. He’s dinged up in a lot of ways, as most of the players in the NFL are this time of year. No one’s really 100 percent, but he’s battling through a lot of things for us.”

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