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Ask #GiantsChat: What to expect from Saquon

Saquon-Barkley writer John Schmeelk answers your fan-submitted questions from #GiantsChat

Both Pat Shurmur and Saquon Barkley have been clear they don't think the Pro Bowl running back needs to play in the preseason to be ready for Week 1 against the Cowboys. Neither, however, has tipped his hand as to whether Barkley will play before then.

This was Barkley's answer to your exact question on Tuesday: "I don't think anyone needs to be hit. I think if everyone could choose not to get hit until Week 1 they would choose that. But you are right, some people like to get that first contact, (and) like to get that first hit. But for me, I'm the type of player that no matter if it Is preseason, playoffs or the regular season, once that first play goes and I get hit, I'm fine."

"I just want to be smart," Shurmur said. "I want to do what's best. I think as we go through it, you see the good work he's getting in practice. We just want to continue to do that."

Alec Ogletree, when he returns from his calf injury, will still be a three-down linebacker, which is no different than last year. Based on reps in practice, it does appear Tae Davis has overtaken BJ Goodson for not only the starting nickel linebacker, but also in base defense. As a former college safety, he is a smaller and faster player than Goodson. In the long run, pass defense is also something the Giants need more of from the linebacker position.

It's not fair to assume that having a lighter linebacker automatically means he will be worse against the run. If that linebacker is instinctual and aggressive attacking the hole, he can be an effective player against the run too. Luke Kuechly is just 238 pounds but he was Pro Football Focus' top run defender from the linebacker position last year. I'm not comparing Davis to Kuechly, which would be crazy given the latter's track record, but he shows size is not a prerequisite to being a good run defender at linebacker. Speed is just as important and Davis has that in spades.

It will help to have the likes of Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, BJ Hill and Olsen Pierre playing in front of him, but it is important to note that the Giants do not run a traditional 2-gap, 3-4 defense. Their defensive linemen are taught to get up the field, not occupy multiple offensive linemen to free up linebackers to get to the football.

Sam Beal hasn't practiced in August, which is much more important than speculating whether or not he will be on the roster in a couple of weeks. He needs to get back on the field, but in the meantime youngsters like Corey Ballentine and young veterans like Antonio Hamilton have been taking advantage of his spot with the second-team defense. Coming off a rookie year lost to a shoulder injury after just one practice, every missed rep is a missed opportunity for the Giants' 2018 draft pick. Until Beal shows he is healthy enough to participate on the field, it will be those others players that get a chance to make a name for themselves.