The Giants still won’t rule out ‘quick wizard’ Saquon Barkley.

Jordan RaananESPN staff writerSeptember 19, 2023 at 02:04 PM ET4 minutes to read

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TEMPE, ARIZONA — New York Giants coach Brian Daboll refused to rule out Saquon Barkley despite his star player suffering an ankle injury during Sunday’s 31-28 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Giants play the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

When a reporter suggested Barkley would waste time, Daboll interrupted.

“I wouldn’t count on that,” he said. “not yet.”

When asked if Barkley would at least miss Thursday’s game, he said he wouldn’t go there either.

“I’m not saying he’s out yet,” Daboll said when a reporter suggested they would be without Barkley against the 49ers. “He’s a quick healer. I’m not saying he’s in, he’s out. We’ll take it with him until Thursday.”

“But he feels much better [Tuesday]”.

Daboll said they would leave the decision until Thursday. Barkley was shown as “did not practice” on Monday, as the Giants only toured Arizona. They plan to travel to California on Wednesday.

It is still possible that Barkley will miss time due to injury. When the diagnosis came back Monday, he was expected to miss three weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Giants (1-1) have 11 days before games after playing at San Francisco.

It still seems likely that Barkley will miss several games despite Daboll saying he is making “a lot of progress” and is a speedy tackler. Barkley missed three games in 2019 due to an ankle injury and four in 2021 due to an ankle problem. Both times he struggled upon his return and took several weeks to return to his previous form.

In his first four games back from an ankle injury in 2019, Barkley averaged just 41.25 yards per game. In his first four games back from an ankle injury in 2021, he averaged just 46.0 yards per game and later admitted he wasn’t himself.

It would be beneficial for the player and the team not to rush Barkley’s return.

“I just say with every injury until you’re with the player, you see the player — he may heal a little differently than I healed, he may heal differently than another player healed,” Daboll said. “Again, I’m going to be a lot better than I thought it was going to be, or some other people thought it was going to be [Tuesday].

“We’ll take it one day at a time, and if he can do it, great. If he can’t do it, we’ll see if he can improve by next week.”

The Giants have three running back options — Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and Eric Gray — if Barkley misses Thursday’s game. Buraida is expected to intervene and play the largest role. Daboll mentioned this week that they spent several seasons together (dating back to their time in Buffalo) and that he “knows the offense.”

Breida is also the most trustworthy option as a pass blocker, which will likely give him a significant portion of the passing snaps.

Brightwell should also get some carries while Gray could be used intermittently as a runner and pass catcher. The rookie from Oklahoma struggled with his pass blocking this summer.

“The three guys we have behind Saquon, they’re all here for a reason. We’re comfortable with all of those guys, whether it’s running or passing. … We have confidence in them.”

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