saquon barkley madden
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants running back hasn’t been on the game field since Week 5.

Saquon Barkley (ankle) could suit up this Monday night for the first time since Week 5.

This current injury hasn’t required the overly lengthy recovery timetable his 2020 ACL tear did. But regardless, it hasn’t been an easy road back to the gridiron, and it’s actually been one that’s encompassed multiple issues.

Not only did Barkley need to rehab from this specific injury, but the fourth-year running back also experienced a brief stint in the COVID protocol due to a recent false-positive test.

It’s always possible to lose a competitive mindset when away from the game for a period of time. How did Saquon prevent this from occurring?

“When I thought I had COVID, I played a lot of Madden…Playing board games with my family,” Barkley told the media Friday. “There’s nothing that’s going to feed [the mindset] like playing football. It’s not just a competitive side, it’s just the love of the game and just how passionate I am about it. Like I said, every single day so far this week, just trying to come back and just get better and show the coaches that I’m able to go out there and protect myself and be able to help the team.”

Barkley, who’s been limited in practice this week, additionally noted he doesn’t play with the Giants in the ever-popular video game.

“It’s too close to home. Say if I’m playing a game and if I fumble the ball, I’ve got to take myself out of the game,” he explained. “It’s too weird for me, so I stay away from the Giants.”

Despite this current recovery period, Saquon didn’t suffer any setbacks to his knee or foot, which would’ve likely led to further rest and rehabilitation.

His return could certainly assist the Giants in their highly crucial matchup with the Buccaneers. Overpowering Tampa’s defense and putting a notable number of points on the board should help take pressure off the Giants defense, which must face the legendary Tom Brady and his plethora of talented weapons.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

Listen to ESNY’s Wide Right Podcast on Apple here or on Spotify here.