EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley says he is “doing well” in his rehab from a torn ACL, but won’t put a timetable on his return or provide any public assurance that he will be back for the start of the new season.
The Giants open the regular season against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, some 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.
“You know me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. Just come in with my head down and ready to work,” Barkley said Wednesday after spending the second day of mandatory minicamp inside the team facility while most of his Giants teammates practiced. “It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready or I’m able to show everyone I’m ready again. That’s when I’m going to be able to go out there and hopefully be elite, what I was before but even better.”
This is the approach Barkley and the Giants are taking. They aren’t going to set any potentially unrealistic expectations for his return, thus putting any unnecessary pressure on him to get back on the field.
The tight-lipped Barkley wouldn’t even go into detail about where he is in the rehab process, although sources have told ESPN recently that there have been no significant setbacks and that he has progressed to jump-cutting.
“Looks good,” one of the sources said.
Barkley was also optimistic about the progress he’s making, even if he was unwilling to publicly provide the full details.
“I just expect to come in every single day and work hard, work my butt off, listen to the coaches, listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors,” he said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. Whenever I’m able to, I guess you can say, go out there and participate with the team again, I’ll be ready.
“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking one day at a time. Just listening to the trainers from [senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] to [director of rehabilitation] Leigh [Weiss] to all the way down and still being in conversations with [surgeon] Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and [head team physician] Dr. [Scott] Rodeo. Just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”
It has become clear in recent weeks that the Giants are going to take it slowly with the Pro Bowl running back. They are looking at this situation with a long-range view that prioritizes his well-being and future over the short-term gain of being ready for training camp or the start of the season.
Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month. They aren’t going to put him on the field in live situations until he’s 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.
“We are going to make sure that we take Saquon’s rehab at the correct rate for his individual body and injury,” coach Joe Judge said Tuesday. “It’s not any mirror of anybody else’s injury out there. We have to make sure that we let him get it at his pace and put him on the field [when he] can play 100% aggressive and confident and he’s going to play safe and he can play effective.”
Barkley seems to be on board with the plan, although he admitted it’s difficult to be patient.
But he heard owner John Mara express a desire for him to eventually sign a long-term contract with the team and is appreciative of the Giants’ support. It makes it all that much easier for them to be on the same page.
“At the end of the day, I want to come back and be the best that I can for my team, not just for a short span but for a very long time,” Barkley said. “Like I said, I have no expectation of a set date or when I’ll be full-go in this. I’m just going to come in and work every single day because that is what I know.”
Free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker is filling Barkley’s role in the meantime.
“I’m really excited for the offensive weapons that we added. All the weapons that we added, all the people that we signed,” Barkley said. “I think we have a lot of talent. I think we have a chance to be real special.”
Whenever it is he finally does return.