ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Odell Beckham, Jr. is incredulous at the predicament Saquon Barkley currently finds himself in.
"I don't know how you pull your hamstring as a rookie," Beckham said. "That's unreal."
Well, not really, which is why Beckham laughed as he made the statement. After all, it was just four years ago when Beckham, then a new pro and highly-touted first round draft choice, missed most of training camp and the first four regular-season games with a – wait for it – pulled hamstring. That did not prevent him from becoming the NFL's most exciting player and Rookie of the Year that season.
Now Barkley, the second overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, has a strained hamstring he suffered in practice on Monday. He did not participate in the joint practices here with the Detroit Lions, and is not expected to play in the teams' preseason game tomorrow.
"We'll have to see," said coach Pat Shurmur, who keeps his personnel plans close to the vest. "You guys can all guess and surmise as to who's going to be in the game. As we go along here, I'm just not going to talk about it. I have ideas and plans, and certainly the health of a player may affect that at some point. … You guys will see when the ball gets snapped."
Barkley has not been sidelined because of injury since 2015, his freshman year at Penn State, when he missed two games after hurting his ankle.
He'd prefer not to miss any games now, but the Giants will not rush their prized rookie back into the lineup.
"I'm feeling good," Barkley said. "It's coming along … It's frustrating just to watch the guys be out there and not being able to compete with them, but you got to trust the team, the coaching staff and the trainers and the strength staff. They have a great plan in place and doing the best they can to get me back as quick as possible."
Barkley suffered the injury making a terrific catch of a Kyle Lauletta pass. He said this is his first hamstring injury.
"I wasn't scared, because I knew it was nothing crazy," Barkley said. "I was just frustrated because a lot of those things are (preventable) It's about taking care of your body, treating your body, making sure you're hydrated. I thought I was doing all of those things right, but it kind of just showed me that even when you think you're doing enough, you got to find a way to do more."
While his teammates practiced against the Lions, Barkley stretched, did some light running, and stayed involved mentally.
"He's doing fine," Shurmur said. "He tweaked his hamstring and he's day to day and he's coming back as fast as he can."
Although Barkley could not be on the field, Shurmur said it was still a beneficial three days for the young back.
"Anything you see, you can learn from, and this isn't the first time a guy tweaked a hamstring," Shurmur said. "So no, it's very important to watch."
What did Barkley get out of it?
"Just learned that you could still be a leader, even though you're not on the field," he said. "Continue to stay vocal, continue to stay active and focus on the objective and understand the play calls, know what you're doing and watching the backs, see how they set up runs and learn from the good things and learn from the bad."
After they play tomorrow night, the Giants will have two preseason games remaining before the regular-season opener against Jacksonville on Sept. 9. Because he's an NFL newcomer, does Barkley need to play in those games to be ready for Week 1?
"I think a lot of people say yeah," he said. "Obviously, I'm going to say yeah, because I'm a student of the game, and anytime you take more reps in game it's going to prepare you more. I do think we do a great job here, obviously going against the Lions or going against our defense, getting real good game looks in. Even though I'm not able to participate on the field today, it's still an opportunity for me to learn and opportunity for me to get better and prepare myself for the next I'm able to play."
Barkley knows he can't rush back and play before he's completely healed. And in case he's tempted to try, Beckham has some friendly advice for him.
"Mine was a strain; I think he kind of pulled it, so thank God I didn't pull mine," Barkley said. "He's saying that those are things that could linger on, too, and you got to be in the weight room, you got to be in the training room, you got to attack it. You got to take care of yourself and take it day by day."
"Like I told him, just take your time," Beckham said. "There's nothing you need to prove to any of us, there's nothing you need to prove to anybody. You know what you're capable of, I know what you're capable of, we know what you're capable of, it's just about getting healthy.
"I remember I think I pulled my hamstring my rookie year, and just having to deal with that, I kind of can give him some insight on what I went through. But at the same time, I still have to step back because it's his journey and you have to let him make his decisions. But just trying to keep his spirits up, he wants to be out there, he's always been a guy who works hard. Just keeping his mind right, man, he's going to be good come September 9th, and that's all that really matters now."