EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Saquon Barkley is in a holding pattern.
The Giants' star running back held his customary Thursday post-practice meeting with reporters today, and his comments pretty much echoed what he said last week. His sprained ankle is improving. But he doesn't know if it will be well enough to play in the Giants' next game, Sunday night in Buffalo.
"I feel like I'm trending every week," said Barkley, who continues to be limited in practice. "I felt better last Wednesday and last Thursday, this Thursday, Wednesday, then last Wednesday and Thursday. But when you have injuries, sometimes it takes time. Like I said, just been listening to the trainers, come in here and try and do everything I can, and taking it day by day."
Barkley cited "pain" and "cutting" as two issues he must overcome.
"That's what happens when you get some inflammation in there and you're kind of just working through that and working through the soreness," he said. "But like I said, each week has been trending upwards. I feel way better this Wednesday and this Thursday than I felt in the past."
Coach Brian Daboll said of Barkley, "He's closer, he's closer again. We'll take it all the way up to the end of the week."
Barkley was injured on the Giants' penultimate offensive snap in their victory in Arizona on Sept. 17. He has since missed losses to San Francisco, Seattle and Miami. In those three games, substitute running backs Matt Breida, Eric Gray and Gary Brightwell have run for 107 yards on 47 carries, a 2.2-yard average. They have not been helped by running behind an injury-riddled offensive line.
That is just one facet of the recent ineffectiveness of the offense, which scored just one touchdown and averaged 222 total yards and 14 first downs in those three games. It is frustrating for Barkley to watch the offense struggle and not be able to leave the sideline to help.
"Yeah, it sucks, because as a competitor, you want to be out there," he said. "It's not like more of the mindset of I want to be out there, it's going to change something. More of the mindset of just seeing your guys fight and you can do nothing about it. It's hard to lead. It's hard to have a presence when you're on a sideline in a hat and a hoodie, in street clothes. So, I think it's important for me to get back out there, especially where we are at in the season, and I feel like I can make an impact and hopefully I'm able to show that."
This week brings a new wrinkle, the potential absence of quarterback Daniel Jones, who has not practiced since injuring his neck last week against the Dolphins. Barkley said Jones' status won't influence whether he plays.
"I don't really think that plays a factor in this if D.J. can go or not," Barkley said. "Do I want to be out there any more or less? Just me as competitor, I want to be out there. I feel like that win, lose or draw. I like going out there, I like playing football. We get paid for it, but it's something I've been doing since I was a kid. I enjoy it. The other stuff is not fun, the business side, and you've got to hear people say this and say that, but going out there and playing the game you love is always fun to me. That's what pushes me and motivates me to go out there, and also, being a leader on the team. Like I said, it's hard to lead in street clothes."
Two years ago, Barkley sprained his ankle on Oct. 10 and missed four games. After returning, he averaged 49.8 rushing yards in the season's final eight games, including a 102-yard outing in Chicago. But that experience hasn't made him more inclined to fully heal before returning to the field.
"A fully healed ankle, I don't want to talk like I'm a doctor or something like that, but it's what, six to eight weeks – for it to actually fully scar in and do everything," Barkley said. "So, I don't think it would be in my best interest to sit out and just let it fully scar in. But I've played with this before. You can play with it. It sucks, sometimes when you make a cut, you feel it, sometimes you don't. Every week, it gets better. You've just got to hope you don't backtrack, and that's what I've just been doing is listening to the trainers, listen to the staff, go out there, take the reps I can take, feel it out and every week just try to get better."
Barkley was hurt on his 66th snap against the Cardinals but is insistent that heavy workload did not compromise his ankle.
"I felt great," Barkley said. "To be honest, I felt great after the ankle. It was just I didn't think it would take this long to be completely honest. I can't even say it's taking this long, this is the timeline I probably was given, but as a competitor, you want to try to beat it and get out there as fast as you can for your team, but I felt really good from the workload, I felt really good this camp coming into the season, but it's football. Had an unblocked guy come take my leg out, I was getting hit this way at the same time and had a high ankle sprain.
"To be honest, it could've been way worse. Kind of look at it from that perspective as a blessing and knowing that I will be able to get back on the field soon and it's not something I'm out for a year or have to get surgery for."
That's a piece of good news the Giants will happily accept.
*After announcing that Jones wouldn't practice today, Daboll was asked if that meant he won't play Sunday. His response: "Will not practice today."
Has Jones regressed?
"He won't practice today," Daboll said. "We'll see where we're at here in the next couple of days. If he's better, he'll play. If he's not, he won't."
*The number of players on the Giants' injury report grew by three today, to 17, including seven who did not practice and 10 who were limited.
The additions to the first group were running back Gary Brightwell (ankle), who was limited yesterday, and punter Jamie Gillan, who was not on the field because of illness.
They were joined by quarterback Daniel Jones (neck), tackles Andrew Thomas (shoulder) and Matt Peart (shoulder), and center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder), and linebacker Azeez Ojulari (ankle).
Three players who did not practice yesterday were limited today: tight end Darren Waller (groin), wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) and linebacker Micah McFadden (ankle). Tackle Evan Neal (ankle) and defensive lineman D.J. Davidson (knee) were added to injury report as limited participants.
Those who remained limited were Barkley, offensive linemen Marcus McKethan (knee) and Shane Lemieux (groin), and defensive backs Deonte Banks (ankle) and Cor'Dale Flott (ankle).
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 6 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.