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Joe Judge Explains Why There is No Set Timetable for Saquon Barkley's Return

Giants head coach Joe Judge explains why the team has been unable to establish a date for running back Saquon Barkley's return.  .

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge can't wait to see running back Saquon Barkley on the field.

With good reason, too. A healthy Barkley offers a unique blend of skills that makes him a dangerous asset in both the running and passing games and is the prototypical fit for the "playmaker" label the league's 31st ranked scoring offense lacked so desperately last season.

But for as excited as Judge is to welcome Barkley, a team captain last year, back to the gridiron, he's also willing to be patient in waiting for the 24-year-old to fully complete his months-long rehab from a torn ACL that required reconstructive surgery last November.

"You gotta make sure that you want to put the players out there when their bodies are fully ready to go out there and compete," Judge told Giants Country by phone last Friday. "And when they can operate at full speed where the defense is operating full speed."

Judge's caution is certainly understandable given his fondness for Barkley as a person and as an athlete.

It's also fair to wonder if perhaps Judge, who last year signed off on quarterback Daniel Jones's quick return from a hamstring strain only to see Jones unable to operate at full speed against the Arizona defense, led to a new injury, learned from that experience.

Earlier this off-season, Judge confessed that the quarterback's injuries were far worse than what the team admitted at the time, even going so far as to acknowledge that "ninety percent of the players in the league who would’ve had that injury, including quarterbacks, would have been on IR for the remainder of the year."

With that in mind, it's understandable why Judge won't even put a return date down in pencil.


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"In terms of timetable for Saquon, when the doctors give us the green light, we'll begin incorporating him into practice with the team and team drills," Judge said.

"But I definitely want to take a long-term picture and view with him--and that's long-term throughout the season and long-term throughout his career. I don't want to do anything that's going to rush him back where he's not ready fully, because that's not going to benefit him individually and it's not going to benefit us as a team either."

With there being growing uncertainty that Barkley might not even be ready for Week 1, Judge and the Giants coaching staff are already thinking ahead just in case that scenario does come to fruition.

"You always have to have a contingency plan, and that's for every player in the roster at all times," Judge said. "Players are not robots; it's not like one guy is removed, so the next guy fills in exactly in the same way.

"That's where we talk about really understanding who the players are and what they do well. Within a game plan, you have to make an adjustment--if someone else take over a role, what can they do to make an impact and how can you use that within the game plan? That's what we as coaches have to plan for and figure out." 

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