Saquon Barkley’s availability to kick off the 2021 regular season still remains very much a mystery. The star New York Giants running back is currently occupying the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired knee. With the organization adamant on taking things slow with Barkley — and rightfully so — the team may need to lean on other backs throughout training camp and into the early parts of the season.
Devontae Booker would obviously be the first man up to bat, as general manager Dave Gettleman has lauded the free-agent signing as a “legitimate three-down running back.” With that said, the former Las Vegas Raider has never manned a lead-back role, starting just seven games over his five-year NFL career. In other words, he could likely use a backfield-mate to help compliment him — insert Alfred Morris.
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Morris-Giants Reunion in the Works
ESPN’s Field Yates has reported that Morris will be making his way to East Rutherford for a visit at some point next week. When he does, the running back is expected to rejoin the Giants on a new contract, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Of course, Morris isn’t the same back that shredded the NFC East during his early years in Washington. However, the 32-year-old surprised many during his time with Big Blue in 2020, flashing fresh legs and adding a pop to the team’s run game while operating behind Wayne Gallman.
Signed in September of last year following Barkley’s injury, Morris was promoted to the active roster after Devonta Freeman was placed on injured reserve. Over his nine game appearances, the former sixth-round pick totaled 238 yards rushing on 55 attempts. His 4.3 yards per carry average marks Morris’ personal best since 2017, and was just 0.3 ypc behind Gallman for the team lead.
In 114 career games, Morris has rushed for 6,173 yards and totaled 36 touchdowns (35 rushing and one receiving). His best campaign to date came back in 2012, when the then-rookie rushed for an outstanding 1,613 yards — second to only league MVP Adrian Peterson and his 2,097 yards. Morris has done most of his damage within the division, spending two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys on top of his stints with Washington and now New York. He’s also had a cup of coffee with two NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, over his career.
News of Morris’ impending signing comes on the heels of the team waiving running back Taquan Mizzell, who had previously been placed on injured reserve. Beyond Barkley and Booker, former Super Bowl hero Corey Clement likely adds the most intrigue to the Giants’ backfield due to his dual-threat abilities. Gary Brightwell, Mike Weber and Sandro Platzgummer round out the depth chart.
Booker Not Fazed About Barkley’s Status
While Morris is a nice addition to the offense, he’ll likely inherit a similar role as he did last season. In this case, that means serving as second-fiddle to Booker should Barkley miss time early in the year.
Potentially taking over for such a prominent player like Barkley could prove to be quite the daunting task to put on someone’s plate. However, Booker, who is coming off his most prolific rushing campaign (423 yards) since his rookie season, is simply focusing on what he can control.
“[Barkley’s status] is honestly something I don’t even pay attention to,” Booker told reports on the first day of training camp, via the New York Post. “I just go out there and do the reps and do what I am told and let everything else fall into place. I am going to continue to work my butt off and bust my ass for this team.”
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