Saquon Barkley will begin practicing with the Giants for the first time since he tore his ACL in September of last year.
The Giants, last month, placed running back Saquon Barkley on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with training camp looming. Barkley tore his ACL last September in a Week 2 loss to the Bears and missed the remainder of the 2020 season.
The 24-year-old has thus been working on the side, with the injury and subsequent recovery preventing him from practicing.
That’s all set to change this week though — according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, the Giants will be taking Barkley off the PUP list. Schwartz notes the team will initially work him into individual drills.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reiterates Monday is Barkley’s return date to practice.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) August 9, 2021
It’s unlikely he’ll take part in any of the team’s three preseason games. The Giants play exhibition matchups against the Jets (Aug. 14), Browns (Aug. 22), and Patriots (Aug. 29) prior to the regular season.
Saquon active for Week 1?
The question remains, however, if Barkley will be active for the Giants’ Week 1 meeting with the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12. Setbacks in his recovery are still possible, and even if one doesn’t occur, the organization may still feel more comfortable about returning its starting running back following Week 1 if that’s when he’s going to feel 100%.
If Week 1 against Denver isn’t the date circled on the calendar, then Week 3 against Atlanta (Sept. 26) might be. I say this because the Week 2 game against Washington is just four days following the Week 1 matchup — not having him play Sunday, Sept. 12 may mean he won’t be active Thursday, Sept. 16.
It’s also unclear if the Giants will use him as much as they normally would once he returns. There’s always the possibility they ramp up his workload as time progresses.
Who steps up amid his potential absence?
Barkley initially sitting out could clear the way for a number of guys to earn in-game reps.
The Giants acquired Devontae Booker and Corey Clement via free agency this offseason, signing the former to a two-year contract back in March. It seems the pair of individuals, along with Alfred Morris (who the Giants recently signed), could compete for the starting job in the event Barkley misses time.
New York additionally employs Gary Brightwell, who it selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft. The rookie out of Arizona figures to be more of a special teams player, however, than someone who garners a significant number of offensive reps.