Everyone has been impressed with New York Giants rookie Saquon Barkley including his running back coach Craig Johnson.
But perhaps no one has given Barkley higher praise than his running back coach Craig Johnson.
The 58-year-old Johnson has been the Giants running backs coach since 2014. Needless to say, Barkley is the most talented back the Giants have had in Johnson’s tenure, and Johnson is happy to be working with him.
This week, the Giants made Johnson available to the media and he couldn’t stop singing the praises of the second overall pick in the draft.
“He has done a really good job. As a young player he has come in and he understands the process of what it’s going to be like in camp, he understands now how fast the second level and third level, the linebackers and defensive backs are and finds out that, man, those guys can really play and run too. So, he’s trying to make sure he’s understanding the process, knowing his matchups. I tried this move, it worked once, the second time it didn’t work, I need to go to the next step.”
Giants running back coach Craig Johnson. pic.twitter.com/kcsemOHDFX
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) July 31, 2018
The Giants have not had a dynamic three-down back like Barkley since Tiki Barber. Just like what the Giants did with Barber over a decade ago, the Giants will get the ball in Barkley’s hands often in the ground game and in the passing game.
Barkley and the rest of the Giants running backs going through position drills. pic.twitter.com/rqhriOeaLu
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) August 1, 2018
Recently, Barber said that he believes Barkley can get 350 touches this season. Johnson was asked about Barber’s comments and here’s his response.
“I’m sure Saquon would hope he gets 350 touches. Again, I’m not going to speak on that. Tiki is a tremendous back. He’s right about a lot. I’ll say this for sure about him, there isn’t a back I know that doesn’t want to touch the ball. The backs have to understand that the receivers want to touch the ball; tight ends want to touch the ball. As a back, if you don’t want to touch the ball, you shouldn’t be in my room. But, how much he’s going to play, how many touches he will get at the end of the year, I think that discussion is for a later time.”
The Giants have several talented backs on their roster in addition to Barkley such as Wayne Gallman, Jonathan Stewart, Jalen Simmons and Robert Martin. But when Barkley is on the field the Giants are a better team, so he should easily get 350 touches this season.
With the workload ahead of Barkley, and being under the mentorship of Johnson and head coach Pat Shurmur, Barkley could eclipse 1,500 all-purpose yards and be named Offensive Rookie of the Year.