EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants are thinking “long term” with star running back Saquon Barkley entering training camp. They aren’t going to rush him on the field this summer or even for Week 1 as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered last season.
Coach Joe Judge made this clear in a one-on-one conversation with ESPN.
“We’re thinking long term with Saquon; long term in the season, long term in his career,” Judge said. “And by taking care of him individually, that is going to help our team long term as well. We’re going to make sure when we get him out there we can keep him out there.
“And we’ve got to make sure we do the best thing for him as we go along the way and make sure we make decisions based on his body and not some artificially anticipated timeline. When he’s ready to go, that is when he’s going to be out there.”
Barkley isn’t going to be out there for the start of training camp. The Giants’ first full-team practice is scheduled for Wednesday. He has already been placed on the physically unable to perform list.
More likely, if things go well, Barkley can get off the PUP list and on the field sometime in late August. This would give him several weeks to get ready for the season opener on Sept. 12 at MetLife Stadium against the Denver Broncos. There remains a chance he’ll ready for Week 1.
Barkley injured his right knee in Week 2 of last season against the Chicago Bears. He had surgery in late October.
By all accounts, he continues to make significant progress.
“The biggest thing with Saquon is he’s made a lot of gains,” Judge said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to. I know that he’s chomping at the bit to get out there, and you watch him out there rehab on the field, this guy is getting better every day.”
Barkley played it coy at his ProCamps football camp last week when asked if he’ll be out there for the start of training camp and/or Week 1.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said with a smile, continuing with the approach of not putting a timeline on his return to the field. “Taking it day by day. Just listening to my body. Whenever I’m able to get out there just make sure I’m 110 percent. Not just for … my well-being, but just so I go out there and compete at a high level and show the world who Saquon is.”
The Giants have been intent on playing it safe with Barkley’s rehab and return since the start. The reasons are multilayered.
New York has a lot invested in Barkley, whom they want to be part of the organization long term. He is still just 24 years old and the Giants say he remains a unique talent. There is understandable caution about putting him on the field potentially prematurely to avoid a setback.
Barkley seems OK with this approach, even though he wants to get back on the field.
“Kind of have to play that by ear,” he said of his own expectations. “When it comes to rehab, rehab is never a straight line. Just play that by ear. Listen to your body, and whatever your body is telling you, go with that.”
Whether that is to get into practice this summer or after the season begins.
“I’m not going to take a short scope of this,” Judge said. “This is going to be a long-term mission.”