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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley Remains Patient in Comeback

Barkley's production through two games has been pedestrian, but the fourth-year pro believes the best is still yet to come as he continues to get back into a groove following his year away due to an ACL injury.

The 2021 NFL season is barely three weeks old, but a pleasant statistical trend has developed for the New York Giants running game.

The Giants are averaging 111.5 rushing yards per game, 14th in the league, and their highest average and ranking since running back Saquon Barkley joined the club in 2018.

But that ranking comes with something of a caveat, as it's quarterback Daniel Jones and his 122 rushing yards on 15 carries that leads the Giants ground game after two weeks.

Barkley, you might remember, was drafted for his "gold jacket" potential and his ability to not only inject some firepower into the Giants' running game but to also lend his play-making abilities as a receiving threat to an offense looking to force opposing defenses to have to worry about something else.

After a strong rookie season in which he posed 2,028 scrimmage yards included 1,307 rushing yards (both career highs), injuries, Barkley has been on a constant pace to try to equal or top those numbers.

In 2019, he topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark--barely with 1,003 yards, his total scrimmage yardage reduced to 1,441.

Barkley, who is coming off that torn ACL injury in 2020, is off to a modest start this season. He's rushed for 83 yards in 23 carries, a 3.6 yards-per-carry average, which is below his 4.7 career average.

But Barkley, whose surgically repaired knee has responded well, is confident that he's just getting started.

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"That’s just kind of going to continue to happen as the season goes on, not playing football for a year," he said when asked if he was still getting his feel back for the game after missing the majority of last season.

"Last week, I felt like – I know it’s going to sound weird, but my eyes and my feet were moving at the same pace. I was seeing things and making cuts as the game got on, especially towards the end of the game, a lot better, so just continue to trust it, continue to watch film."

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett believes that the old, productive Barkley isn't too far off. "With him, it’s just day by day getting better and better and better as he goes. We started to see him the last couple of weeks of training camp come back and really do everything we’ve asked him to do.," Garrett said. "We’re just excited to have him back and he’s done a great job for us the first couple of weeks."

Barkley's modest start--for him at any rate--can also be attributed to his newness to the scheme run by Garrett. Last year with spring football wiped out and the pandemic altering the structure of NFL training camps, Barkley and his teammates had to learn the offense on the fly.

Toss in the ACL injury that necessitated him spending a good chunk of this past off-season working with the trainers rather than with teammates on the field, and a case could be made to forgive Barkley for a sluggish start out of the gate.

"I think the coaches do a really good job of explaining the scheme and what’s to be done in the scheme, what’s my role and what I’ve got to accomplish throughout the plays, so I wouldn’t say that," he said.

"But going back to what you said, I only played one game in this scheme, meaning I only played one or two football games last year and not playing for a whole year definitely takes a part, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse at all. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m just going to continue to keep growing, keep trusting it and just having fun out there."


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