NORTH CALDWELL, N.J. — Coming off an ACL injury that cost him most of last season, Saquon Barkley either doesn’t know or isn’t saying how much he will be able to do when the New York Giants report to training camp next week.
Speaking during a break at a youth football camp Monday, Barkley said he is continuing to rehabilitate his right knee and he is taking things day by day. The 24-year-old running back added he has not spoken with coach Joe Judge about how the team plans for him in training camp.
Players report to camp in East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 27. Practice starts the next day.
The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year smiled when asked if he knew more than he was saying.
“I guess that’s the theme of the summer, when would I be back?,” Barkley said “I don’t have an answer, to be honest. I’m not trying to lead up to it, but I don’t have an answer. It’s a fun process (rehab), but it’s a tough process at the same time. So I’m listening to my body, the trainers, the coaches and taking it day by day.”
Barkley, hurt against the Bears in the second game of the season, interacted with the young players at the ProCamps event, throwing and catching passes, and even doing a little running.
A 1,000-yard rusher in each of his first two seasons, Barkley said his knee feels pretty good. He seemed to move well on the field, adding he liked being a “kid at heart” with the youngsters and got a boost of energy being with them.
Most professional teams don’t let athletes coming off major injuries do much at the start of camp. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft has not played in a game since Sept. 20 and he did not take part in the Giants’ voluntary offseason training activities or the mandatory minicamp last month.
For his own safety, Barkley does not want to get back on the field until he can go 100%, which he insists is the way he plays football.
Barkley admits his rehab may never end. It’s a process in which one continually builds the body to avoid injuries.
“… But the sport that I play, things happen,” the former Penn State star said. “So you just try to eliminate all those things that you can, but just go out there with a smile on my face and just tell yourself you are playing the sport that you love. And if anything does happen, it happens. That’s my mindset.”
Barkley carried the ball 19 times for 34 yards last season and caught six passes for 60 before being hurt. The Giants (6-10) spent the rest of the season using a variety of running backs. Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis got carries and quarterback Daniel Jones used his legs to add a little extra to the ground game.
If Barkley is healthy, he will be the No. 1 back when the season opens at home Sept. 12 against Denver. If not, New York has Devontae Booker and Corey Clement, who were signed as free agents, and draft pick Gary Brightwell on the roster.