New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and cornerback Adoree' Jackson, both of whom were listed as QUESTIONABLE for Sunday's Week 1 regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos, are expected to be active for the game, per an ESPN report.
Barkley will make a triumphant return to the gridiron nearly one year after tearing his ACL in the Giants' Week 2 regular-season game last year against the Chicago Bears.
After undergoing tests following the injury suffered at the start of the second quarter of that game, it was reported that Barkley not only tore his ACL, he also injured his meniscus and strained his MCL, the latter being the reason why Barkley's reconstructive surgery was delayed for a little over a month while the MCL healed on its own.
Since his surgery, the 2018 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year has been hard at work to rehab his knee in an attempt to author one of the greatest comeback stories ever written.
The Giants have been very hands-on with his rehab, making certain not to rush him back through any of the phases of the rehab and taking extra precautions with the 24-year-old not to undo any of the progress he made.
Barkley began training camp on the PUP list but was activated on August 9. Although he didn't play in any preseason games—not an unexpected move in retrospect—the Giants constructed practice in such a way to allow for Barkley to work himself back into football shape.
Like the Giants, Barkley was tight-lipped about his status, refusing to attach any timetable when he might return. After declining again on Friday to confirm the possibility of his being active for Sunday's game, Barkley did allow that if he were to play in a game, he felt he could move around to protect himself and help the team.
"Yeah, I mean, practice and the game (are) totally different, but I’ve been having a really good week of practice just getting back out there trusting the knee, getting my football conditioning back in the flow of things, getting a feel for the run game, for the pass game, for pass-pickup and all that," he said.
"Obviously, we do a great job simulating practice to Sunday, but it’s a totally different feeling and I guess you really won’t know until you’re out there on Sunday."
Giants head coach Joe Judge, also speaking to the media Friday, seemed to downplay the notion of Barkley being placed on a pitch count for his first live-action back from injury.
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"We structure a game plan for individual players, whether it be Saquon or any other player on our team, we try to stick to that game plan until we have to make necessary adjustments in the game," he said.
"In terms of specific rep numbers and pitch counts, to me, it's just more important to know that this guy’s healthy. To me, if you go out there for one snap, I want to make sure you're able to go out for that one snap full speed. In terms of the volume that we may play any specific player, a lot of it will be dictated by the flow of the game."
Jackson, who suffered a sprained ankle during the Giants' joint practices with the New England Patriots on August 25, has been extremely limited since suffering his injury. However, this week, he was able to practice on a limited basis and looked to be moving around fine during the part of the practices open to the media.
Jackson, one of the Giants' top free-agent signings this past off-season, is projected to start opposite James Bradberry. His presence allows defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to deploy more man coverage.
While he was limited, Jackson said he remained engaged through mental reps.
"Ultimately, it's about what you do in the game, but at the same time, you’re taking the mental reps. Doctor Lani (Director of Wellness and Clinical Services, Player Engagement Lani Lawrence), we talk about visualizing and the mental reps," he said.
"So, for me, visualizing what you want to do and the things that you may see and then getting those mental reps out there. I take all of it in consideration. Even if you are practicing, you’ve still got to get those mental reps and visualize if that was you in the situation, what would happen."
Jackson, who spoke to reporters Wednesday, said that if he is out there, he will go full speed.
"I think everything is about not thinking, no matter what," he said. "As a kid, my Pops used to tell me, 'You go out there playing timid or doing something, that's when bad things happen to you.' So, I’m just going out there and playing fast, being you and being normal because at the end of the day, they don't care. If you're out there, you’re out there."
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