The New York Giants returned from their bye weekend Monday to hold a light practice, and out there among those participating was running back Saquon Barkley.
Barkley has missed the last four games with an ankle injury suffered in Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys. Before practice, head coach Joe Judge told reporters that the plan was to have Barkley going through the drills so that trainers could assess where he was as the week went on.
“He lost a lot of last week not having the availability with the COVID stuff,” Judge said, referring to two weeks ago when the Giants had a series of false-positive tests which landed Barkley on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
“That set him back a little bit – I wouldn’t say set him back physically, but in terms of his timetable and not having him ready for that game. But optimistic we’ll have him out there today and see how he moves.”
Judge scoffed at the suggestion that Barkley, who has missed large chunks of each of the last three seasons with lower-body injuries, was injury-prone.
“I would say the two injuries (last year’s torn ACL and the current ankle injury) are completely unrelated and (the second was) definitely more of a freak accident. This isn’t something from a guy who’s injury-prone or something of that nature. It’s a freak accident – a guy steps on somebody else’s foot. It’s nothing related to another injury that keeps lingering,” Judge said.
The Giants went 2-2 in Barkley’s absence but believe they are a better team with the running back in the lineup.
"Just to have his presence – even in the huddle – it’s awesome," said tight end Evan Engram. "He’s probably our biggest leader, our biggest captain. It’s just good to have him back. I know he’s been itching to get back, so he’s going to stay the course and keep working and keep doing what he can to be ready."
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Judge said he was pleased with how Barkley handled this latest bump in the road.
“He’s done a great job as far as leadership, staying active as a captain on the team and active in the captains’ meetings. He has a lot of great insight into what’s going on in the locker room for me, a lot of pertinent feedback that I need, so he’s done a great job as far as that’s concerned.”
In other injury news, left tackle Andrew Thomas, who is still on injured reserve with a foot ailment, linebacker Lorenzo Carter (ankle), receiver Sterling Shepard (quad), and safety Nate Ebner (ankle) all worked with trainers during Monday’s light practice.
Running back Devontae Booker (hip) and fullback Eli Penny were both excused from practice for personal matters. Running back Gary Brightwell was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, and running backs coach Burton Burns returned to the facility after recovering from COVID-19.
“We’re going to ramp Gary back up,” Judge said. “Part of his ramp-up will be going through individuals and stuff with us in practice, so he’ll be involved.
“Everyone’s had to test, take multiple tests before getting in the building today and that includes every coach, every player, every staff member. So right now everyone’s all clear.”
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