Giants RB Saquon Barkley ready for full workload in Week 1

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Monday, September 3, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Saquon Barkley's first NFL game should come with no limitations.

Barkley hasn't played since theNew York Giants'preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. He tweaked his hamstring on Aug. 13 and wasn't a full participant in practice until last week.

The No. 2 overall pick has looked good ever since, and doesn't expect the hamstring to have any impact on him in Sunday's season opener when the Giants host the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I definitely think I'm ready for a full [workload] the way I've been preparing and practicing," Barkley said Monday after the Giants began preparations for the Jaguars.

It's still unclear what a full workload will be for Barkley. He barely played in the preseason. The Giants are expected to sporadically sprinkle running backs Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart into the game.

Tight end Evan Engram (concussion) also continues to progress as he practiced in a limited capacity. Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) appears to be the Giants' biggest concern. He was not at practice on Monday. All three are expected to play key roles for the Giants this season.

Barkley should start at running back against the Jaguars. He insists the hamstring is no longer a problem, and the layoff shouldn't affect his conditioning despite playing just six snaps in the preseason.

"I feel in really good physical football shape because in practice doing extra stuff with [Stewart] on the sideline, running and conditioning there," Barkley said. "I was running the whole time I was out. That's more like running track speed, conditioning shape. The first day I got back I was a little winded because ... the best comparison is like a high school basketball player they understand going from football condition to basketball season. Two completely different conditioning. But I definitely feel pretty good in football shape right now."

Barkley spent the spring and summer running with the Giants first-team offense. He looked especially dangerous as a receiver, at times catching passes against cornerbacks while lined up wide as a wide receiver.

Barkley's first carry of the preseason also went for 39 yards. He finished the preseason with four carries for 43 yards, all in the opener against the Cleveland Browns.