It has been 72 days since Saquon Barkley tore his right ACL early in the second quarter of the Giants' Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. That means he is 72 percent better today.
The Pro Bowl running back joined NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" on Tuesday to update his progress, which he is tackling day to day, much like his streaking Giants team.
"Life is good," Barkley said. "Obviously, I'd love to be out there with my team and playing the sport I love, but everything happens for a reason. I'm just trying to get one percent better every single day, rehabbing every single day, just focusing on the little things, and try to make sure that I'm ready to go for next year for my team."
But not until the 2020 Giants finish their business.
It has been 329 days since the Giants hired Joe Judge as the 19th head coach in franchise history, so are they 329 percent better?
After losing their first five games and starting 1-7, the Giants have won their last three games and sit atop the NFC East. They hold the tiebreaker over Washington, which holds a matching 4-7 record, after sweeping the season series.
The Giants will look to make it four wins in a row with Sunday's visit to Seattle. This game – and only this game – is where the Giants are focused.
"I think it starts with Coach Judge and all the coaches," Barkley said. "They're doing a tremendous job of keeping the main thing the main thing – and that's coming [in] every single day and focusing on the little things, focus on getting one percent better that day. Obviously, we know right now where we're sitting – at the top of the NFC East – but sadly, we wish it was today, but the playoff [schedule] doesn't start next week. We've still got the rest of the season still to focus on. We've got to get better and finish the season strong. Everything that we wanted from the beginning of the year, our goals, are still on the line and we've got to know they're there. But we've got to stay focused on the little things."
Barkley, who was voted a team captain for the second time in three years, was part of delivering Judge's message during an unprecedented off-season, let alone one for a first-time head coach.
"I think he's been doing a tremendous job, just the way how he asserted himself in that leadership role from the beginning," Barkley said. "And it's probably a lot harder to do because we had to do it over Zoom – 2020 has not been ideal for anyone. But he did a great job and continues to do a great job. And not only him, but all the new coaches that came aboard are doing a great job of leading this team. Everything we said that we wanted to accomplish this year is right there, and it starts with those guys."
Last year, Barkley became the first player in Giants history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. While he couldn't extend that record to three years, the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year enjoys watching Wayne Gallman's breakout campaign. Gallman ran for a career-high 94 yards last week against the Bengals and extended his rushing touchdown streak to five consecutive games. No Giant had done that since Andre Brown in 2012-2013 – not even Barkley.
"Wayne Train as we call him, I love that guy," Barkley said. "We have a great relationship. That's one of my brothers, and I'm so happy for him. He's been playing well. You can see his confidence grow. Everyone in that organization knows how special, how talented Wayne is. And every single week you go out there and see his confidence grow. So, I'm just happy for him. We got the run game going. The big boys up front are doing a heck of a job, so we definitely want to give a shoutout for those guys, too."
While Gallman has nearly 100 more yards through 10 games this season than he had in the past two years combined, Daniel Jones still leads the team in rushing yards. A chunk of the quarterback's 403 yards came on an 80-yard sprint in Week 7 in Philadelphia. The only thing that could catch him was the turf.
Barkley was in attendance for that game and reveled in the blooper, which was softened after Gallman finished the drive with a touchdown a few plays later.
"At first, I'm like, 'Wow, he's moving,'" Barkley recalled of Jones' run. "I think he hit 21 miles per hour or something like that on his run. I'm like, 'He's to the house.' I just got so excited, and then when I see him fall, I really was just laughing. We all were laughing up there, having a good time, and I was walking and telling him, 'Put your knees up, put your knees up, DJ.'"
*Barkley also joined NFL Network to promote the Chunky Million Meals Challenge. GENYOUth and Campbell's Chunky, the Official Soup Sponsor of the NFL, are hosting a dynamic esports initiative to help tackle hunger in schools. The Chunky Million Meals Challenge Madden NFL 21 presented by Target tournament will be played in EA SPORTS Madden NFL 21 and deliver 100 million meals to alleviate food insecurity among school-aged children during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chunky Million Meals Challenge tournament is encouraging the gaming community to "game for good" and support GENYOUth and its partners in this important cause.
The Challenge is a free-to-enter open invitation tournament powered by CSL Esports which provides students across North America with life-changing opportunities through esports. Throughout the tournament's top eight bracket, NFL players like New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson– as well as Madden NFL competitive pros – will serve as "Champions of Chunky," team captains who will coach and mentor the final eight competitors as they face off for uniquely experiential prizes provided by the NFL, EA Sports, CSL Esports and sponsors. Tournament registration begins Dec. 1, on Giving Tuesday, with tournament play beginning on Saturday, Dec. 19.
To register for the Chunky Million Meals Challenge, visit millionmealschallenge.com.
View photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley.