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New York Giants won’t commit to Saquon Barkley playing Week 1

Aug 20, 2021; Berea, OH, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) during a joint practice with the Cleveland Browns at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2021; Berea, OH, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) during a joint practice with the Cleveland Browns at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants coach Joe Judge said the team likely won’t decide on running back Saquon Barkley’s status until just days before the Sept. 12 regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos.

Barkley, 24, has participated in live drills but was held out of the Giants’ preseason games as he continues to work his way back from a torn ACL in his right knee. Judge wants to build Barkley’s workload in practice and see how he responds before determining his Week 1 status.

“There won’t be a decision made on Saquon until Denver week and it’s probably not going to be Monday (of game week), either,” Judge said Tuesday. “We’re going to go ahead and see how his body responds and where he’s at.”

Barkley hasn’t played in a game since suffering the knee injury against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 20, 2020. He was able to participate in live drills while wearing a no-contact jersey during last week’s joint practices with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve been building his volume little by little. Probably the biggest day for us was seeing him on the field against New England,” Judge said. “There’s some things he was able to do out there in terms of the reaction on the field, in short space and with some quickness that showed his body’s progressing beyond just rehab.”

Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, led the NFL with 2,028 all-purpose yards as a rookie while adding 15 touchdowns. He was limited to 13 games the following season by a high-ankle sprain, finishing with 1,003 rushing yards and 438 receiving yards while scoring eight total touchdowns.

The Giants have veteran Devontae Booker and rookie sixth-round pick Gary Brightwell on the roster. Neither possess the explosive big-play ability that Barkley has displayed as a runner and receiver when healthy.

“I rely a lot on the information from our training staff and medical staff and doctors who spend a lot of time with him,” Judge said. “I know he’s been working hard, we get a lot of GPS numbers and different readings on his body, they trend in the right direction for him with how he’s working.

“I’m very pleased with how he’s working.”

–Field Level Media