The waiting game continues for Giants star running back Saquon Barkley.
Giants coach Joe Judge said on Sunday – after his team’s second preseason game, a 17-13 loss to the Browns – that he was still not sure Barkley would be ready for Week 1.
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“I don’t have a crystal ball on it,” Judge said. “I wouldn’t rule out any possibilities.”
The Giants’ first regular-season game at home against the Broncos is exactly three weeks away.
They brought Barkley back slowly, as he returns from knee surgery. In the second week of last season – September 20 at the Bears – Barkley tore his ACL and suffered other associated damage.
But the judge said Barkley’s workload would increase this week. It will all depend on Monday’s conversations with the Giants’ medical staff.
“We’re definitely going to step up what he does,” Judge said. “I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be. I don’t know at the moment if this will include 11-on-11 [team periods]. But we’re going to make sure we’re very calculated and careful with what we’re doing. I know he stamps his foot and gets anxious.
Barkley hasn’t done an 11-11 job so far in training camp. He worked out 7-on-7s early last week, while wearing a red (non-contact) jersey, just before the Giants left for their two joint practices with the Browns in Cleveland. During those joint practices, Barkley got no 7-7 job against the Browns. He just did individual exercises with his own teammates.
The Giants will play their third and final preseason game next Sunday at home against the Patriots. Judge has barely played starters so far in the preseason, across two games.
The starters should have some work to do next Sunday against New England. Still, it would be a surprise if Barkley plays in this game, even though the judge hasn’t officially ruled him out.
Before the game, the Giants have joint practices Wednesday and Thursday with the Patriots in New England – they’re active, despite Tropical Storm Henri, the judge said – then a Giants-only practice Friday at East Rutherford. (This Friday practice will be light.) The Giants will not have official training Monday or Tuesday this week.
Judge was the Patriots’ special teams coordinator before the Giants hired him last year. So he knows and trusts at least some of the veteran Patriots defensemen. For that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Barkley get some work 7-7 in those two joint practices in New England this week. A bigger step would be the 11v11 action. But Barkley isn’t there yet.
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Darryl Slater can be reached at [email protected].