Saquon Barkley was built for this moment.
The New York Giants rookie is getting set for a Week 1 debut where he becomes the face of this team’s rebuild.
The Giants offense was ranked 31st in the NFL in points scored last season and first in pass attempts. The team is counting on Barkley to give it jolt and some much-needed balance. The Giants haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2012 and there is no denying that the second pick overall in the 2018 NFL Draft is a true running threat for an offense that has desperately craved one in recent seasons.
The balance that Barkley, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Penn State, brings to the Giants is also in the receiving game. He averaged 11.7 yards per catch in college, giving them a true playmaker at the backfield.
Former Giants running back Ottis Anderson shares his expectations for Saquon Barkley this season.
And now the Giants hope that Barkley is ready to go come Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The rookie played in just a single preseason game, having suffered a hamstring injury during training camp.
“I’m excited to show the team because, obviously, I only got a little bit of playing time there,” Barkley said. “I was able to make some plays happen in practice. I got to still be aware that it’s a long season and you have to take it game-by-game, and day-by-day. I’m just trying to get as ready as I can for this game – mentally and physically, and try the best that I can do, and try to do whatever I can do for my team to help them come out with a win.”
In his one preseason appearance, Barkley had four carries for 42 yards in the loss to the Cleveland Browns. Plenty will be dependent on the offensive line in front of him being able and willing to block for him. Yet his unique skillset alone as the most polished running back to come out of college in the last decade gives the Giants another gamebreaker to go along with Odell Beckham Jr.
Back from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for much of camp and preseason, Barkley now faces the pressure of his NFL debut. Physically, he says, he is ready and up for the challenge of being this team’s bell cow.
Barkley said this week that he is ready to carry the load in Week 1.
“A lot of people talk about football shape and just being in-shape regular. They don’t mean like their physical contact part of it. Obviously, that’s part of it, too. I still was able to take the physical contact within practice,” Barkley said.
“I just didn’t go down to the ground, I got a little bit of it within the Browns. But, I feel I’m in really good physical football shape because in practice, doing a little extra stuff with Stew [Jonathan Stewart] on the sideline – running, conditioning there. I was running the whole time when I was out.
That’s more like track speed conditioning shape. So, the first day when I got back, I was a little winded. The best comparison is like a high school basketball player. Like they would understand going from football right into basketball season. It’s like two completely different conditioning. But I definitely feel pretty good in the football shape right now.”
[Watch Giants 1st & 10 Friday at 6 PM on MSG & MSG GO. Download free.]