The grass was damp and a bit slick from rain the previous night and Thursday morning, but Saquon Barkley was on it and participating in practice, another sign he is on schedule to play in Sunday’s season opener against the Broncos.
Barkley’s progress from knee surgery has been slow and steady all summer, with no setbacks, and there do not appear to be any roadblocks along his path back into the Giants’ backfield.
“A lot of confidence in him as a player,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “I think he’s done a great job to get himself back healthy and 100 percent.”
The Giants have been careful throughout training camp and the preseason not to assign any specific percentage to Barkley’s physical status. That Garrett listed Barkley as “100 percent” is a good sign. This does not mean the Giants will give Barkley a full load against the Broncos, as he is expected to be on a snap count limit.
“We have a lot of confidence in the guys we have but obviously Saquon’s a special player,” Garrett said. “He’ll certainly get his opportunities.”
As the Cowboys head coach, Garrett faced Barkley four times and Barkley broke 100 rushing yards in two of them. In one game, Barkley had 14 receptions. The Giants lost all four games.
“Trust me, I was on the other side with this guy, and he’s one of those dynamic players, both in the running game and the passing game,” Garrett said. “He’s one of those players who can make a 3-yard run and a 4-yard run and a 2-yard run or a 1-yard run and then he catches a screen and goes for 65 yards. We’ve lived that, trying to stop him. It’s great to have him on our side. We’ll try to give him opportunities.”
The news is not as promising for tight end Evan Engram. He remained on the side again with a strained calf and there is very little chance he will be able to play in the opener. More significantly, can he improve in time to play in Week 2, which is a Thursday night game in Washington?