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Notebook: Giants leaders keep focus on road ahead

SAQUON-BARKLEY

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Saquon Barkley today made a sensible point most Giants fans probably don't want to hear in the wake of the team's decisive loss to Dallas in the season opener.

"It's not going to be our only adversity throughout this year," the two-time Pro Bowl running back said.

But Barkley and the rest of the Giants know nothing is achieved by reflecting on the 40-0 loss, but everything can be gained by preparing for their game Sunday in Arizona against the Cardinals, followed four days later by a Thursday night contest in San Francisco.

"We've got to see how we respond, and it's on us as players and on us as leaders to make sure that doesn't happen (again)," Barkley said.

"I feel like this is a team with a short memory," tight end Darren Waller said. "Sometimes, you've got to have that in this league because things aren't always going to go the way you want them to. This past game was very unfortunate as far as the results are concerned, but at the end of the day, it's not the start we would've imagined but we still have plenty of more opportunities, and I feel like guys took that into account and practiced with a lot of energy this week."

Because the margin of defeat was shocking, reporters covering the team continue to ask the Giants if they have seen signs in practice that they have moved on from the largest opening game defeat in franchise history. The players are learning there are only so many ways you can say "yes".

"I think, to be completely honest, the only time we really even reflect on that is when we've got to talk to you guys," Barkley said. "I know you guys are doing your job and asking the right questions, but we're so far gone on that. Like I said, you can't let what happened in Week 1 affect you in Week 2. We can learn from it, but we've got to move on.

"It wasn't really anything different, not anything that I noticed. To be honest, we thought we had a great preparation week in practice the week before. Sometimes the games just don't go your way. Unfortunately, that was a lot of our mistakes. But we've got to prep even better, and I think we've been doing that so far. We've got to wrap it up tomorrow, Friday, and then on Saturday, obviously, the walkthroughs and traveling out there and trying to get the job done on Sunday."

Coach Brian Daboll, who meets briefly with the media on Thursdays, said before practice, "they've come out, they've done everything the right way. We had a really good day yesterday. We'll try to put one together again today."

Barkley responded with his customary bluntness when asked if the players have a greater sense of urgency this week in practice.

"To be completely honest, no," he said. "And I think that's important. You can't act like the sky is falling. That's for everyone else to do that. But we've got to stay solid, the core's got to stay solid within this locker room, within this building. I think we did that, and like I said, hopefully, on Sunday we can go out there and show you guys."

Barkley and Waller are two of the Giants' most important playmakers, but like the rest of their offensive teammates, neither had a big impact on the game Sunday night. Both players caught three passes, Waller for a team-high 36 yards and Barkley for 12 yards. Wide receiver Darius Slayton had three catches for 15 yards. Barkley led the team with 51 rushing yards on 12 carries.

"I feel like there are good things to take away," Waller said. "I feel like there were opportunities to be had in the passing game. I feel like I was creating separation on a lot of different occasions, so just to try and carry that over to this week in practice and into the next week."

Though he certainly wants to do more, Barkley emphasized he can't try to carry the entire team on his broad shoulders.

"I don't think that's the mindset," he said. "I kind of let myself get trapped in that before. A couple of years ago (2020) against Pittsburgh, on I think a Sunday or Monday night, I didn't have too well of a game, and the next week I came out with, 'Oh, I want to do this, and do that, and try to be a superhero, and make all these plays.' I ended up tearing my ACL (in Chicago). So, I won't allow myself to ever really get caught up in that. I want to be the guy for my team every single week no matter what happened before the week before. I want to go out there and make plays, and on plays that call for me, go out there and make them for my team."

Waller is also looking to help more in a team context.

"I feel like for me, I can control it starting with leadership, starting with encouraging guys, empowering guys to move on and be excited about the opportunity this week," he said. "Also just continuing to get open, create separation, make myself available to DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones) whenever opportunities present themselves and just go from there."

Barkley, now in his sixth season with the Giants, said he couldn't recall a time when the team struggled as it did vs. Dallas and was able to quickly correct mistakes and bounce back.

"Nothing really comes off the top of my head," he said. "But that's not going to be the only time that happens. Hopefully, we don't get beat 40-0, but there are going to be times when you're down two touchdowns, you turn the ball over and the momentum is going their way.

"We've got to find a way to stop the bleeding, control the tempo, get the momentum back on our side. Hopefully, what happened in Week 1, we can learn from that, and when that does happen again, the adversity does happen, whatever the adversity is going to be for this team throughout the season, we're able to respond."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard received a scheduled rest day and did not practice. Every other player on the Giants' injury report was limited, including the two who did not practice yesterday: tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and Waller (hamstring/rest). The others were tackle Matt Peart (elbow), wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee), linebackers Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) and Cam Brown (ankle), defensive backs Deonte Banks (calf), Cor'Dale Flott (hamstring) and Gervarrius Owens (hamstring), and kicker Graham Gano (right ankle).

Thomas, the Giants' best offensive lineman, injured his hamstring in the Dallas game.

"He's a tough guy," coach Brian Daboll said. "He said he wants to come out and do some stuff and see how he feels. So, good to have him out and see how much he does."

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