Bill Belichick
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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praises running back Saquon Barkley ahead of their Week 6 matchup with the New York Giants.

The New York Giants have arguably their toughest matchup of the year thus far on deck. On a short week, they face off against the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. Big Blue is entering the game sporting a 2-3 record. The defending champs? Undefeated, having won five straight games to start the season.

New York may still be without star running back Saquon Barkley. The second-year pro is nursing a high ankle sprain suffered in a Week 3 win in Tampa Bay. Barkley is eyeing a return to the field this week, but it’s not yet confirmed he’ll be good to go. Giants fans are surely hoping he’ll suit up. However, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t have the same perspective.

“He’s an outstanding player,” Belichick said of Barkley, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “We haven’t faced him and I hope we don’t. We need to be ready for him. He’s a very competitive guy, I’m sure he’s doing all he can to get ready to go. I know he was close last week so we’ll probably get him.

“He can do it all. He’s got great power, speed, they use him well in the passing game. He’s very hard, obviously, to tackle in the open field. Hard to tackle anywhere. Good vision, good quickness. He can play in space, he’s elusive, he’s got power. He’s as good as any back we’ve seen on film. I’m sure he’s either going to be back or he’s close to being back and we have to be ready for him.”

If Barkley is unable to go, it’s unclear who the starting back will be. Third-year pro Wayne Gallman suffered a concussion in the team’s Week 5 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He left the loss prior to halftime. If both are out for Thursday, the Giants will be left with Elijhaa Penny and Jon Hilliman to man the run game.

The Giants will kick off against the Pats this Thursday night at 8:20 p.m. ET.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.