TEMPE, Ariz. – Midway through Brian Daboll's virtual news conference on Tuesday, a reporter said of Saquon Barkley, "obviously he's going to be out for at least some time."
"I wouldn't count on that, not just yet," Daboll responded.
Clearly, anyone who counted Barkley out of the Giants' Thursday night game in San Francisco didn't consult with Daboll.
The Giants coach left open the possibility that Barkley might face the 49ers in Levi's Stadium, despite the ankle injury he suffered late in the victory against the Arizona Cardinals just two days ago.
"I'm not saying that he's out yet," Daboll said. "He's a quick healer. I'm not saying he's in, he's out. We are going to take it all the way up with him to Thursday, but he feels a lot better today. I just talked to him. So, we will see where we are at."
Barkley was hurt with 1:02 remaining in the Giants' dramatic 31-28 victory against the Cardinals. His lower leg bent awkwardly at the end of a two-yard run on the team's final offensive possession, which produced Graham Gano's game-winning field goal. He was helped to the sideline and was examined later that evening and again yesterday.
Multiple media reports said Barkley sustained a sprained ankle and would be sidelined three weeks. Yesterday, the Giants players who spoke publicly talked about the possibility of playing without Barkley. But Daboll wasn't about to confirm or deny that today.
"I just think with every injury, until you're with the player, you see the player… I don't know, you might heal a little bit different than I heal, I might heal a little bit different than another player heals," he said. "So, again, Saquon is, I'd say he's a lot better than maybe I thought he would be, or some other people thought he would be today. He might heal a little bit different than another player, if you will. So, we'll just take it day-to-day with him and if he can make it, great. If he can't, we'll see if he can get better by the following week, and we'll just take it one day at a time."
After playing Thursday, the Giants will have 10 days off before hosting the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, Oct. 2.
"I think it all factors in, but ultimately, I go back to the player and see where he's at," Daboll said. "He's made considerable progress, just in a day and a half or however many days we've been out here. Again, we will go all the way up there to the start on Thursday and see where we are at."
The Giants have three other running backs on their roster in veteran Matt Breida, third-year pro Gary Brightwell, and rookie Eric Gray. Breida would likely start if Barkley is inactive.
"The three guys that we have behind Saquon, they are all here for a reason," Daboll said. "We are comfortable with all those guys, whether that's run or pass."
Even if Barkley does play, it's doubtful Barkley would duplicate the workload he had Sunday when the only offensive play he missed was immediately after he suffered the injury.
On that play, Breida gained five yards before Gano was summoned to kick the game-winning field goal. Daboll and Breida have been together for three seasons, one in Buffalo and two with the Giants.
"He's a pro," Daboll said. "He knows what to do, he knows how to do it, he's done it for a while. He's got speed, he's got some quickness about him. He's had some productive years as a runner, he was at San Francisco. He's just a pro and he knows our system well and we have confidence in him."
Breida played his first three pro seasons for the 49ers (2017-19), when he averaged 127 carries a year. From 2020-22 with Miami, Buffalo and the Giants, he averaged 46.3. He has not had more than nine rushing attempts in a game since Dec. 20, 2020, when he had 12 for the Dolphins vs. New England. But he said he can handle as many carries as the Giants need.
"I came into the league, I was fifth string, and then I was a starter at one point, so like this is nothing new to me," he said. "Football is football at the end of the day, you go out there and play, so it's nothing different.
"Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do. If I've got to play 80 snaps, 100 snaps, I said I've been a starter before so it's nothing new to me. At the end of the day, if he (Barkley) can't go, we are all ready to step up and do our part and like I said, he's a game time decision, so we will see."
If Breida is the primary ballcarrier on Thursday, what will it mean to him?
"I just want to go out there and play for my team," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm grateful to still be playing in the NFL. I came in undrafted so just to be here, I am blessed and whatever my team needs, I'm doing it."
View photos from the Giants' 31-28 comeback victory over the Cardinals in Glendale.