Saquon Barkley has hit an important milestone in his return from an injury that sidelined him for most of last season.
Barkley returned to Giants practice on Monday for the first time since tearing his ACL and spraining his MCL in Week 2 of the 2020 season against the Bears. The 24-year-old running back was limited during the session, and while the Giants aren’t planning on putting him in any live drills yet he did get to show off his cutting and ball carrying abilities.
Additionally, the Giants activated Barkley from the PUP list because of his return to practice. Had Barkley remained on the PUP list into the regular season, he would’ve had to miss at least the first six games of the year. Now, his activation opens the door for a potential return as early as Week 1.
But will Barkley be ready to play at that early stage of the season? Here’s what he and the Giants are saying about his status as New York gets ready to dive into its preseason schedule.
2021 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200
Will Saquon Barkley play for the Giants in Week 1?
Barkley’s Week 1 status is looking decidedly more promising than it did just a month ago. While Barkley and Giants coach Joe Judge wouldn’t commit to a timetable for his return, the starting running back said he is “definitely hopeful” to suit up in Week 1 after feeling good in his return to practice on Aug. 9.
Saquon Barkley says he “feels good” following his first practice in close to a year. He still played coy and said he didn’t know about being ready for Week 1. But Barkley admitted getting into a practice more than a month before the opener that he’s “definitely hopeful.” pic.twitter.com/iI9G56dcJM
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) August 9, 2021
This comes just a few days after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Giants were anticipating Barkley to return to the lineup by Week 3 at the latest — barring a setback.
You’ll probably see him anywhere from Week 1 to Week 3. So, probably by Week 3, Saquon Barkley should be on the field.
It certainly seems like Barkley is trending in the right direction. Less than a month earlier, he was completely non-committal about the potential of a Week 1 return.
“I don’t know. I guess we’ll see,” Barkley said of his Week 1 availability on July 19, per the New York Post. “Whenever I’m able to get out there, make sure that I’m 110 percent not just for the safety and health of myself and my well-being, but just so I can go out there and compete at a high level, and show the world who Saquon is again.”
But now, it looks like there will at least be a chance for him to do that. And though Judge and the Giants won’t guarantee Barkley will play in the season opener, the coach is pleased with Barkley’s progress to date.
“He’s in my office all the time. ‘I can do this; get me in this; can I do this?’ He’s already out here today asking about doing a couple of different drills today,” Judge said after Monday’s practice. “And I’m like, ‘You already know that’s not going to be permitted, Saquon. We gotta back you off a little bit.’
“But look, he’s making progress. We’re happy with what he’s doing. He’s got a great attitude and has been a tremendous leader.”
Barkley’s status will bear watching in the lead-up to Week 1. He almost certainly won’t see any action during the Giants’ three-game preseason schedule, but if he continues to do well in practice he may suit up in Week 1. Either way, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be sidelined too long into the 2021 NFL season.
IYER: Where does Saquon Barkley rank among NFL’s 30 best RBs?
Saquon Barkley’s injury history
During his NFL career, Barkley has missed a total of 17 games over three seasons. Fourteen of those contests came last year as a result of his knee injury.
Below is a brief summation of the injuries Barkley has dealt with during his NFL career to date, per DraftSharks.com.
|Aug 13, 2018||Hamstring||0 (injury occurred during camp)|
|Sep 22, 2019||High ankle sprain||3|
|Sep 20, 2020||ACL tear/MCL sprain||14|
Additionally, Barkley suffered a couple of ankle injuries in college. He missed just two games during his freshman season as a result of those injuries.