joe judge jim fassel saquon barkley giants
Syndication: The Record

Joe Judge spoke to the media Tuesday morning prior to the Giants’ first mandatory minicamp practice of the 2021 offseason.

The Giants commence the mandatory minicamp portion of the 2021 offseason Tuesday in East Rutherford. Head coach Joe Judge met with the media prior to practice to discuss a multitude of topics, but began the press conference by addressing the Monday death of former Giants head coach Jim Fassel.

“I want to start out by offering our prayers to the family of coach Fassel. Obviously, very sadly, he passed away last night,” Judge said. “It’s a small league, from inside this building where his impact was directly felt and carries over to the history of our organization to coaches around the league who work together and have good relationships — a lot of respect for his son, John ‘Bones’ Fassel down in Dallas, have a very good relationship with him, just all the respect in the world for what they’re doing.

“Obviously, our thoughts and prayers with his family, the impact he made here for the Giants is something that we talk about as a team, and we’ll make sure we reflect on it today.”

Judge additionally spoke on the chance to coach the Giants following the aforementioned significant impact Fassel truly made on the organization.

“When I was fortunate enough to get the phone call to even interview for this job, I knew right away this job was not like every other team in the league,” the second-year head coach said. “And to me, that reflects directly on the history of the team, the impact it’s had throughout the history of the league, and the people that have come before us.

“That’s something we stress on a daily basis with our players and coaches — to understand the people who have been in this building and have made an impact on the field before we came here. It’s our responsibility to not only know their history but also carry out with class the way they operated. It’s important to represent the Mara and Tisch families accordingly, it’s important to represent all the former players and coaches accordingly.

“Obviously, with the passing of coach last night, that’s something that makes you kind of sit back and reflect, it brings up a lot of great coaches that have been through here. It’s definitely an honor to be in the same position as all those coaches. I’m a far way from achieving anything they have at this point, I’ve got a lot of work to do myself, but I’m proud to be able to be in this position and have the opportunity to come to work every day, be a New York Giant, and work in this great city and organization.”

A Saquon Update

So how’s Saquon Barkley doing?

The Giants running back obviously tore his ACL in the 2020 Week 2 matchup with the Bears and missed the remainder of the season. Reports suggest he’s on track to be ready to go come the start of the regular season but isn’t expected to be on the field during mandatory minicamp.

Barkley is present at the facility though and working towards a major comeback.

“He comes in every day, he really attacks every day from a rehab standpoint. He’s had a phenomenal attitude and great motivation this entire way through. He’s been tremendously positive,” Judge said. “We’re going to make sure we take Saquon’s rehab at the correct rate for his individual body and injury. It’s not any mirror of anyone else’s injury, we have to make sure we let him go at his pace so that when we put him on the field, he can play 100% aggressive and be confident that he can go out there and play safe and play effective.

“Typically, we’ll do Saquon’s rehab in the morning before practice, so when the players get out there, he’s already been off the field…couldn’t be happier with how he’s working, he’s shown a tremendous amount of leadership this offseason. I know he’s chomping at the bit to get back on the field…he’s been getting better every day.”

Barkley returning fully healthy would be crucial for the improvement of young quarterback Daniel Jones and this offensive unit as a whole.

After losing Saquon, the Giants finished the 2020 campaign second-to-last in both total yards and points. A healthy Barkley along with the numerous talented weapons the Giants acquired this offseason would take immense pressure off the team’s third-year signal-caller. It would additionally allow offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to implement more creativity into his play-calling.

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