Bill Belichick admitted the Patriots don’t want to see Saquon Barkley on Thursday night. The star running back is anxious to dash their hopes, but whether or not he suits up for the Giants in Foxborough remains uncertain 48 hours before kickoff.
"I do not know if I'm playing Thursday night," Barkley said. "There is no decision yet. I know you guys asked Coach (Pat Shurmur). I know there are reports out there that I'm not going to play. It didn't come from my mouth and it didn't come from Coach Shurmur's mouth, so I don't know how that story happened."
Barkley, who was off to another terrific start in his follow-up to his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, suffered a high ankle sprain in the Giants' Week 3 victory in Tampa Bay. He worked his way up to "limited" status in practice last Friday, but has yet to progress past the designation.
The Giants held a jog-through Tuesday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as both sides prepare for their second game in five days. Shurmur called it "teach tempo" with a few periods run at full speed.
"I feel good, just taking it day by day, continuing to get better every single day," Barkley said. "I'm trying to do whatever I can to prepare myself the most I can to help my team compete at a high level on a short week on Thursday."
Barkley added: "I was able to continue doing the same thing; running, cutting, I think that's the biggest focal point. Being able to run and cut and I have been able to do that, I think that every single day I continue to feel better and that just happens with this type of injury. As times goes on, you continue to feel better."
Shurmur said yesterday that "time is your friend when you're coming back from an injury," but that's precisely what the team does not have as injuries continue to mount on offense.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Wayne Gallman, who had started in Barkley's place, have yet to practice this week after both sustained concussions in Sunday's loss to the Vikings. Tight end Evan Engram, the team leader in every major receiving category, has also been limited with a knee injury.
"I had my mind made up that I am going to come back as fast as I can and I'm going to be 10 times better," Barkley said. "Also, I had the mindset that I am going to be open-minded. I'm not coming in here struggling, I'm not coming in here with my head down. I'm going to do whatever it takes in rehab to continue to get better and, also, I'm going to listen to my team. Like I said last week, I can't just preach 'team, team, team' on the field. Also have to preach it off the field."
The Giants travel to New England on Wednesday. While they await word on how many of their injured offensive play-makers get on the team plane, they will likely have three more seats filled by the defense. Inside linebackers Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussion) have been full participants after they missed the last two games. Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter (neck), who was also unable to suit up last Sunday, has been limited this week.
"We don't have one guy that's just going to save the day for us," said Ogletree, one of seven team captains. "It takes all 11 of us to go out on the field and do our job and do it well. When somebody needs to step up, we expect them to step up and do their part, and the same with me. When I come back, they need me to do my part, and the same with the rest of everybody."
*Fullback Eli Penny, a converted halfback, rushed three times last week for 15 yards as he and undrafted rookie Jon Hilliman carried the load for Barkley and Gallman.
"I think he's a good runner," Shurmur said of Penny. "He has good vision. He has good collision balance. To this point, when we've handed it to him, he's secured it well. Those are all of the elements that you're looking for in a runner."
Meanwhile, Hilliman led the Giants in Week 5 with nine carries for 20 yards.
"Yeah, he competed well," Shurmur said. "He did what we asked him to do, and with his opportunities, he made the most of them. We expect that he'll do the same this week."
*Rookie Darius Slayton led the Giants in receiving last week with 62 yards on four catches, including a 35-yard touchdown from Daniel Jones.
"We drafted him for a reason," Shurmur said of the fifth-round pick out of Auburn. "I think I made comments earlier in the week about how we've liked what we've seen behind the scenes. He's getting more and more of an opportunity to play, and he's making the best of it. The hamstring problem for him [earlier in the year] was sort of the issue of the day. But aside from that, he's done a lot of good things."
*New England has allowed just 34 total points through its first five games of the season, the fewest points allowed through a team's first five games since the 2005 Indianapolis Colts (29 points) and the fifth-fewest since 1970.
"They have all of the elements of what makes for a dominating defense," Shurmur said. "They're very sturdy against the run. When you drop back to pass, they get pressure, whether they're rushing with four or they choose to pressure. Then in the backend, they can play man-to-man coverage or in the case of zone, they do a good job of eliminating the big play. They have all of those elements, and that's why they've had success."
Photos from Tuesday's practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
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