Giants’ Saquon Barkley feeling good ahead of Commanders game

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The New York Giants, who ran Saquon Barkley back, said he felt “much better” after being limited to a neck injury in a 38-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Barkley appeared on his injury report last week after suffering pain in practice on Wednesday. Later in the week, his MR was taken and his status to play against the Eagles was in jeopardy.

The NFL’s fourth leading runner got 28 yards in a season-low nine innings against Philadelphia. He played the low 20 offensive moments of the season, partly due to the disproportionate nature of the game and his decision to limit the coaching team’s workload.

But Barkley has been out of injury report this week and fully engaged in training leading up to Sunday’s pivotal game with the Washington Commanders. A win would increase the Giants’ chances of reaching the postseason from 53% to 89%, according to ESPN analytics.

“I feel pretty good. I don’t feel better or worse than anyone who’s been at week 15,” Barkley said on Thursday. “I feel the same way. I put a lot of work into my body. I put a lot of money in my body. I’m just happy. I haven’t been this healthy in December for the past few years. I’m healthy.” And I just want to go out there and try to make a difference for my team.”

Barkley is the key to the Giants (7-5-1), who is 7-1 when he runs 70 or more yards and accounts for 32% of their total offense. He played 79% of the team’s offensive snaps this season, most of the league’s run-backs.

The workload is not expected to be limited this week.

“There are no restrictions,” said coach Brian Daboll. “He had a full workout.”

Barkley thought Wednesday was the best app of the year. On Thursday he was happy to be on the field and was in good spirits afterwards.

“I was bah-bah-bah. I was there,” said Barkley, smiling, gesturing as if he was avoiding the defenders. “I did my best practice to be completely honest.”

It’s different from last week, when Barkley was limited in Thursday and Friday practice. Officially listed as questionable for the Philadelphia game.

For the first time this year, the Giants ran back Gary Brightwell to replace Barkley in the second offensive series of that game. A similar approach is unlikely to happen this weekend unless Barkley experiences a setback.

“I definitely feel a lot better. I was able to go out on the field, I was able to train, I was able to get reps. I felt pretty good,” he said. “This is really it.”

Barkley is excited to be involved in a particularly impactful game. Late in the 2020 season, he was sidelined when the Giants played some December games with a chance to reach the postseason. For the first time in his professional career, he broke the record for a win at any point in the season.

The explosive back had individual success against Washington. His career of 6.1 yards per carry against Commanders is his second-highest against any team. The most productive offensive play of his career (189 yards in 2019) came against them.

“Yeah, I can’t read that much,” he said. “This is a new game, a new season, a new opportunity. I’m really excited for the opportunity.

“We have a great opportunity ahead of us. Just go out there and try to take advantage of it.”

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