New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley took another step forward in his ACL recovery on Thursday.
Although he was wearing the dreaded red non-contact jersey — something he admits he “hates” — Barkley took live practice reps for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 of last season. Not only that, he also found himself taking a few 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 reps.
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“It felt good,” Barkley told reporters after practice. “It feels good being with the team, feels good to get a couple of team reps. It’s just fun to be able to play football again, feel like a little kid and just taking it day by day.”
Giants coach Joe Judge had previously stated Barkley needs to take contact before being put into a regular-season game, but that didn’t happen on Thursday — at least not intentionally. And Barkley agrees with Judge’s assessment, which means the next step in his progression would be full contact.
“I mean that’s the next thing to be completely honest. Like I said, it’s just taking it one day at a time. But we’re at the point where I’m allowed to start taking team reps and those steps are going to happen naturally, especially throughout a couple more weeks coming up,” Barkley said.
“I definitely want to get hit again. To me, it’s not just the hitting, it’s just playing football. Even though I only took two reps and a couple of reps in 7-on-7, those reps are so valuable right now and going to help me in the long run.”
Having been away from live practice for so long, Barkley admitted there were some mistakes. Ultimately, however, he knows all of it will come flooding back to him the more action he sees.
“Caught a little swing route in the 7-on-7 and really forgot we were in the low red zone. It’s those little stuff that is just going to come to you naturally as you continue to take more reps,” Barkley said.
“Obviously, I am going to be a little behind than where I was when I last left off. That just naturally happens when you don’t play football for 11 months, 12 months, (whatever) it is. My eyes are going to be alright because I’ve been watching a lot of film and watching a lot of practice. It’s different than watching and actually going out there and assimilating with the speed. It’s just trusting my steps, trusting my footwork, trusting the scheme and the line blocking, and all that stuff will come back together.”
Barkley’s status for Week 1 remains uncertain but he’s inching closer and closer to being given the green light.