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Joe Judge 'very encouraged' by Saquon Barkley's return to practice


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – His workload was light, and he did nothing extraordinary or memorable, but Saquon Barkley did enough in his return to practice to impress his head coach.

"Actually, it was really encouraging," Joe Judge said of his star running back's training camp debut yesterday. "He got out there with the team, was moving and more and more comfortable with it. I don't speak directly for him and how he feels."

Barkley participated on the same level in today's full pads practice. Judge said the Giants will "back him out" of tomorrow's workout. And Barkley likely will not take part in the joint practices with the Cleveland Browns next week.

But Barkley, who spent the first two weeks of camp continuing to rehab his surgically repaired right knee and was activated yesterday off the physically unable to perform/active list, continues to make steady progress. Both the Giants and Barkley hope he will play in the season opener on Sept. 12 vs. Denver, but that decision won't be made for a while. Barkley is still taking relative baby steps in practice.

"(It is) more an extension of the rehab," Judge said. "We've got to make sure that we control not only just what he does on the field, but then also the repetitions and the volume he gets within each period, so it's something we're going to keep an eye on and see how his body responds. We'll look to increase it as we go through this process, but in terms of yesterday, I was very encouraged with how he came out and had a good day of work. Good excitement for a lot of people to have him back."

Barkley again did not face the defense today.

"You'll see him do individual, do some teach periods where it's offense versus offense," Judge said. "These aren't live drills by any means, more steps and teach type stuff. He'll do those things. In terms of competitive drills, he won't see those in the short term."

Barkley will not play in the preseason opener Saturday night vs. the Jets. The Giants will have two days of practice and a game in Cleveland next week followed by two days of practice and the preseason finale vs. New England.

The practices can be controlled much more than the games, but Judge is mindful of putting Barkley and others at risk against opposing players who are trying to impress their coaches.

"I think it's a factor with any player you have that has any kind of ailment," Judge said. "We've got to make sure that we can put them in a controlled setting where their safety is best. We did a drill yesterday where it's a non-contact, just a space kind of tracing. We don't do it as a tackle drill. Saquon was up (and) I told (linebacker) Blake Martinez, 'Blake, you've got Saquon,' because I know these guys can work with respect and what they're going to do against each other. It's just two guys that we trust that Saquon can execute the technique, build in his rehab, get in a football movement. Blake can work what he's going to do, and he also knows that he's not going to do anything and make a mistake that maybe someone else would make. I'm not accusing any one of our players, but sometimes you may get someone who's maybe a little outside their lane and we want to make sure we keep them safe."

"In terms of him against another team in practice, we'll look to see how he progresses this week. We'll have to see where he is next week for Cleveland. I would not expect to see him next week in any kind of 11-on-11 or live action. Now that's not a final deal, but I would just say based on what we know from our medical team and where he's at in his own rehab, we're not going to try to artificially accelerate and get him involved just because of the competitive nature spiking up."

Check out the top photos from Tuesday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center

*Wide receiver Kenny Golladay, sidelined with a hamstring injury, has been catching passes from the JUGS machine or one of the quarterbacks while remaining stationary. He is one of several players rehabbing with the athletic trainers.

"I'd say I'm pleased with the way the guys are working, they're all making progress," Judge said. "Everyone's individual injury is different, but Kenny's doing a good job working and getting back and as soon as we can get him on the grass, we will."

*Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had foot surgery after joining the Giants in March, remains on the PUP/active list.

"Kyle Rudolph's making progress every day," Judge said. "I know he's a guy that wants to be as involved with the team as can be. He's a guy that's got more of a long-term plan, like we talked about with Saquon and some of those other guys. In terms of a timetable, I'm not going to place anything artificial on him, but I'm going to let the trainers and medical staff let me know when he can continue to do more and more, and we'll get him phased in."

Rudolph joined the Giants after 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Judge believes his professional knowledge will accelerate his transition when he begins practicing.

"The one thing that Kyle has done a great job of is his experience of what he's done in the league, who he is as a person and how he prepares," Judge said. "Mentally, he stays as engaged as he can be through the meetings, through kind of watching tape on his feet if you would, kind of moving around in the meeting room and getting some kind of simulated reps and staying engaged. So when he gets back, he's had as much mental experience as he could. Nothing can ever fully replicate or simulate what you've got to do on the grass, but he's doing everything possible he can to get himself in a position that when he hears a play call, he has to get lined up, he sees the front and knows who he has to block or who he's working off in the pass route. He can process that faster."

*Wide receiver John Ross and center Jonotthan Harrison did not practice and worked with the athletic trainers today. Tight end Kaden Smith was in the group of players "where we're going to kind of keep them on a lower load based on some things he did earlier in the week and last week with a higher volume," Judge said.

*The Giants actived linebacker Ryan Anderson (back) from the reserve/non-football injury list and tight end Rysen John from the reserve/Covid-19 list. Tight end Tommy Stevens, signed last week, was waived.

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