Giants running back Saquon Barkley will miss today’s matchup with the Raiders, the fourth straight game he will be forced to sit out after sustaining an ankle sprain in New York’s Week 5 loss to the Cowboys. The day after that game, head coach Joe Judge indicated that Barkley had avoided a serious injury and was considered week-to-week, but the fact that he has yet to return to the field suggests that his recovery has not gone particularly smoothly.
Indeed, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com says he heard several weeks ago that Barkley’s ankle was not healing as quickly as hoped (Twitter link). On Friday, Judge declined to say whether his RB1 had suffered a setback, and Barkley himself has not spoken to the media in about a month. The Giants are on a bye next week, so Barkley’s next chance to return to the field will be in Week 11 against the Bucs.
After a stellar rookie campaign that helped to justify GM Dave Gettleman‘s decision to make Barkley the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft, things have not gone all that well for the Penn State product. An injury to his other ankle forced Barkley to miss three games in 2019, and though he still produced at a fairly high level that year, he admitted that the ailment nagged him for most of the season. Then, in 2020, ACL and MCL tears ended his season after just two games.
Despite all that, New York elected to exercise Barkley’s fifth-year option for 2022, so he will get one more chance to post a fully healthy year and to return to his 2018 form prior to becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency. In four-plus games in 2021, the 24-year-old has shown some flashes but has posted a mediocre 3.6 YPC average on 54 carries. He has caught 14 balls for 130 yards and has scored three total TDs.
In brighter news for Big Blue, WR Kenny Golladay is expected to play against the Raiders today. Golladay, the Giants’ top free agent acquisition this offseason, suffered a hyperextended knee in the same game that Barkley sustained his injury. As Raanan tweets, the knee has held up well in recent practices, and Golladay is set to return after a three-game absence.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.