Giants won't yet rule out 'quick healer' Saquon Barkley

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- New York Giants coach Brian Daboll refused to rule out Saquon Barkley despite an ankle injury his star running back suffered in Sunday's 31-28 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Giants play the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

When a reporter suggested that Barkley would miss time, Daboll cut him off.

"I wouldn't count on that," he said. "Not just yet."

When pressed on whether Barkley would at least miss Thursday night, he wouldn't go there, either.

"I'm not saying that he's out yet," Daboll said when a reporter suggested they would be without Barkley against the 49ers. "He's a quick healer. I'm not saying he's in, he's out. We're going to take it all the way up with him to Thursday.

"But he feels a lot better [Tuesday]."

Daboll said they would let the decision go up to Thursday. Barkley was projected as a "did not practice" on Monday and Tuesday, with the Giants only holding walk-throughs in Arizona. They plan to fly to California on Wednesday.

It still remains likely that Barkley misses time because of the injury. When the diagnosis came out Monday it was suggested that he was expected to miss three weeks, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Giants (1-1) do have 11 days before games after playing in San Francisco.

It still seems likely that Barkley misses multiple games despite Daboll saying he's making "considerable progress" and that he's a fast healer. Barkley missed three games in 2019 with an ankle injury and four in 2021 with an ankle problem. Both times he struggled upon his return and took several weeks to return to his previous form.

In his first four games back from the ankle injury in 2019, Barkley averaged just 41.25 yards per game. In his first four games back from the ankle injury in 2021, he averaged just 46.0 yards per game and later admitted he wasn't himself.

It would benefit the player and team not to rush Barkley back.

"I just say with every injury until you are with the player, you see the player -- you might heal a little different than I heal, he might heal different than another player heals," Daboll said. "Again, Saquon is a lot better than I thought he would be, or some other people thought he would be [Tuesday].

"We'll just take it day to day with him and if he can make it, great. If he can't, we'll see if he can get better by the following week."

The Giants have three options at running back -- Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and Eric Gray -- if Barkley misses Thursday's contest. Breida is expected to step in and play the biggest role. Daboll mentioned this week that they've spent several seasons together (dating back to their time in Buffalo) and that he "knows the offense."

Breida also is the most trustworthy option as a pass-blocker, which will likely give him a chunk of passing down snaps.

Brightwell should also get some carries while Gray could be used sporadically as a runner and pass-catcher. The rookie out of Oklahoma struggled with his pass blocking this summer.

"The three guys we have behind Saquon, they are all here for a reason. We're comfortable with all those guys, whether that is run or pass. ... We have confidence in them."

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