EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Contrary to the glowing reviews emanating from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, Saquon Barkley has not been perfect during the Giants' spring workouts – despite his best intentions.
He even…dropped a pass.
"I did. I dropped one," the second overall selection conceded today after a minicamp workout. "That is something that I pride myself on. You come out here every single day and you want to be perfect. When I mean perfect, I don't mean a perfect player, but you want to go through practice without drops. Sometimes it reassures you that you have to get back on the jugs and catching after practice. There is a ball that I caught 100 times and I dropped it, because I was trying to turn up field instead of securing the catch. I kind of worked on that after and it has not happened since. That is just a part of the game. I hate making mistakes, but I love making mistakes. I love having MA's (missed assignments) and drops. It reassures you and makes you get back on your grind, lock in and focus a little more. It is better to happen now and in practice than in week one against Jacksonville or preseason against the Browns."
Despite the (very) occasional miscue, Barkley has demonstrated why the Giants were so quick to secure Barkley when it was their turn to choose a player in the first round of the draft. Although his full repertoire is not on display because the players aren't wearing pads, Barkley has demonstrated speed, quickness, excellent heads, and a knack for making the correct decision, even in a full sprint.
"He's looked good in all of those areas as you have seen, and we have seen, day-in and day-out," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "He's still a rookie and he's still got things to learn – not just what is on paper and this is your job on this play, but all of the little adjustments you are going to make before the snap, after the snap and then each team is going to try to, each team is a little bit different and you have to get used to that. We're working all offseason long against our defense and then all of a sudden our first preseason game is going to be against Cleveland, they are a different style. Obviously the opener is going to be a different style of defense. He has to learn that you still have your foundation and what you're doing and then just to make those little adjustments. But he is a guy that we think is going to have some flexibility and some versatility for us."
The offensive players enjoy lining up with Barkley, because they see what an uncommon weapon he can be. And those on defense can't help but notice his many attributes.
"He's a special player," defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. "Special player. Guy that, any single down, is going to create a lot of matchup nightmares for coordinators in this league and players in this league."
"The guy can play, man," defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison said. "I'm excited to get out there in training camp, so I can hit his ass (laughs). See what he's made of. I told him, it's not Penn State. He's not going up against (defensive tackle) Josh Banks at Wake Forest. But no, the guy's explosive, you can see how they will use him in the offense, which will be to our benefit."
Mr. Barkley, care to comment on that?
"My response to that is I am happy we are on the same team," Barkley said. "He only gets to hit me maybe once or twice a year rather than a full game. Snacks is arguably one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL. I definitely have a lot of respect for him and how he carries himself as a vet. You could just watch him on the field. I am going to say I am going to run away from that. I am happy he is on my team and my side.
"I don't know anyone in this league that could run over Snacks. His name is Snacks for a reason. Just happy he is on my team and fortunate that I get to play with him."
*When asked where the Giants pass rush would come from, Bettcher first mentioned Olivier Vernon, who has moved from defensive end to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme. But he also said tackles Dalvin Tomlinson (a second-year pro) and rookie B.J. Hill have pass-rush ability. The youngsters will team with Harrison to give the Giants a versatile tackle trio.
"When we drafted B.J., that was part of us selecting him, because we thought he has a potential to be a three-down player," Bettcher said. "Whether that's a middle push guy, whether that's a guy that can beat some guards and create some disruption for either edge players, or edge pressure guys. Dalvin's the same kind of player. Has some slipperiness to him, has the ability to get on edges. I keep saying that, but I'm anxious to get to training camp to really see where some of that's at. But I do expect those guys to be able to help us."
*The Giants will conclude their minicamp with a practice tomorrow. The full squad will next convene for training camp in July.