New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley participated in just eight snaps during his team’s joint practice with the New England Patriots on Thursday.
Consider it eight big steps in the right direction.
The All-Pro rusher suited up and took part in live drills for the first time this preseason as he continues working his way back from surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 last season.
Of those eight reps he took in various drills, he made a trio of receptions while donning a red no-contact jersey as the Giants continue ever-so-slightly easing him back into the rigors of being the main man in the backfield.
While Barkley said he “felt good” he admitted that there will be some adjustment time needed to fully regain his natural instincts for the game after being on the shelf for nearly a full year.
“My eyes are going to be alright because I’ve been watching a lot of film,” Barkley said. “But it’s different than watching and actually doing… I’m just trusting my steps, trusting my footwork.”
He also made his disdain for that red no-contact jersey known, but provided a promising update when he said that he “really didn’t think about [potentially being hit] at all.”
Taking a hit will be a hurdle that head coach Joe Judge wants Barkley to clear before the Giants continue the conversation of getting Barkley potentially suited up for Week 1 against the Denver Broncos.
“I think every player has to have physical contact and experience the hits they’re going to take in a game before it becomes live, full speed in the regular season,” Judge said on Wednesday. “The reality is, the speed of the game increases from preseason to regular season to postseason. That’s just what happens. For us to put a player on the field without preparing him either through practice or preseason games without contact, we’re putting that player in danger and at a disservice.”