Close to the tip of a season through which his working lanes have been closed, Saquon Barkley was in no temper Wednesday to stroll down Painful Memory Lane.
Barkley is returning Sunday for the primary time to the positioning (Soldier Discipline) the place his profession took a pointy activate Sept. 20, 2020 — when a clear sort out from security Eddie Jackson left the working again with a torn ACL, partially torn meniscus and strained MCL in his proper knee.
“I’m not considering like, ‘I hate the sector,’ ” an uncharacteristically sullen Barkley mentioned. “I’m excited that I’m wholesome sufficient to have the ability to play one other sport. You by no means know when these alternatives are going to be taken away from you. My entire mindset is to cherish these final two video games that we’ve got and attempt to end on a excessive be aware.”
Barkley didn’t follow Wednesday, as is his regular weekly upkeep plan. However he strongly rejected the concept of sitting out the final two video games — “No,” he mentioned to the suggestion — to keep away from additional harm and switch to rehabbing as a result of the Giants already are eradicated from playoff competition.
After an incredible two-year begin to his profession, Barkley’s final two seasons have been misplaced. He missed 14 video games final season and hasn’t rushed for greater than 64 yards in any of 11 video games this season. His season-best efficiency — 126 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns towards the Saints — preceded a fluky sprained ankle the following week that triggered him to overlook the following 4 video games.
It creates a giant what-if. What if Barkley didn’t get injured? Would the Giants have made the playoffs final season as an alternative of falling one win brief? Would this irritating season look in a different way? Would he have signed a big-money extension as an alternative of probably enjoying on a contract-year in 2022?
“I attempt not to consider it, nevertheless it occurred,” Barkley mentioned. “I actually don’t give it some thought. I assume in all probability extra so final yr, however it is a entire completely different season.”
The Giants’ woeful run- and pass-blocking difficult key personnel evaluations of Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones. However the place Jones’ backups have flopped, Devontae Booker is averaging 4.5 yards per carry to Barkley’s 3.5.
Barkley has made it clear many instances, together with earlier this month, that he desires to be a part of the Giants’ future and any turnaround from 5 consecutive shedding seasons. Requested once more Wednesday, he mentioned solely, “Yeah, I’ve answered that earlier than.”
However, with the final supervisor who drafted him possible on his means out and the chance that Dave Gettleman’s successor received’t maintain working backs in the identical excessive regard, Barkley’s future is much less sure than it appeared firstly of the season. Undoubtedly lower than earlier than Sept. 20, 2020. Not that he ever thinks this may very well be the tip of his Giants profession.
“I can’t management these issues,” Barkley mentioned. “I can’t have that thought course of.”
The one thought is to complete sturdy. For what purpose?
“Coronary heart, satisfaction, your final identify, these little youngsters which are nonetheless watching,” Barkley mentioned, “and for one another.”