Since selecting Saquon Barkley No. 2 overall back in 2018, the Penn State product has served as a bell-cow back in the New York Giants‘ backfield — that is, when healthy. Barkley has averaged 19.8 touches per game over his 36 career appearances, including games he exited early with injury. Scratch those from the mix and his touches per game rise north of 21.
Over the past three-plus seasons — for better or for worse — the Giants offense has gone as Barkley has gone when the former NFL Rookie of the Year has been in the lineup. However, that philosophy may soon be coming to an end. With an impending return to action on the docket for Barkley in Week 11 and backup Devontae Booker coming off a career-high 99-yard performance against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Giants backfield could be headed for a timeshare of sorts.
Joe Judge Hints at ‘Two-Headed Monster’ in the Backfield
On the heels of the team’s third victory of the season, head coach Joe Judge was asked by reporters whether Booker has shown enough in recent games to have a role within the Giants’ offense when Barkley returns.
“Yeah, I think he’s done enough all along and the plan is to have multiple guys who can carry the ball either way. Obviously, Saquon is a large part of our team and a huge part of our offense and we will find different ways to create opportunities for him to get the ball through runs, passes, different ways,” said Judge.
Booker has drawn the start in New York’s backfield for four consecutive weeks, increasing his rushing total in every game during Barkley’s absence. Over his past two games, the former fourth-round pick has toted the rock 36 times for 159 yards — an average of 4.35 yards per carry.
“Speaking directly on Book as you asked, I have a lot of confidence in Devontae,” Judge proclaimed. “He’s done a lot of things that give us the confidence to go ahead and put him in there, and you’re always better off having two guys that can carry the ball and stay fresh out there and keep wearing down a defense. Those two-headed monster teams are tough to face. 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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Injury Outlook on Giants’ Backfield
Booker suffered a hip injury in the team’s most recent outing, a 23-16 win over the Raiders. The 29-year-old did undergo an X-ray after the game which came back negative, and confirmed he “[feels] great right now,” via Giants.com’s Dan Salomone.
As for Barkley, the Giants star is expected to be in the lineup when the team returns to the field for a Monday night tilt against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11. Prior to suffering his ankle injury, Barkley was beginning to get his feet up under him, flashing glimpses of his pre-injury form. From Week 3-4, the 24-year-old averaged 110 yards from scrimmage and totaled three touchdowns.
With Barkley trending up, Booker is prepared to help the team as they see fit — whether that be as a complement to Barkley or in more of a reserve role.
“I’ll leave that up to the coaches and whatever they decide,” Booker said in regards to his role moving forward. “But as of right now, I’m just going to enjoy this and come back from the bye week and see what happens.”