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Saquon Barkley 'blessed' to shoulder heavy workload


No one in the NFL has touched the ball more than Saquon Barkley through four weeks, but you won't hear him complaining about the physical toll that comes with it.  

"I missed so many games the last couple of years," Barkley said. "Me complaining about touches or being worried about touches, that would be just stupid of me, to be completely honest."

Barkley has 99 touches, including a league-high 84 rushes, heading into Sunday's matchup with the Packers in London. That averages out to nearly 25 per game and projects to 420 for an entire 17-game season. Barkley's career-high is 352, which he set as a rookie in 2018 under the 16-game schedule. 

Barkley's 463 rushing yards are the most through four games in franchise history, and his 570 yards from scrimmage are second-most. Tiki Barber had 619 at the same point in 2004, two years before he set the franchise record of 2,390 scrimmage yards, which stands to this day. 

"I'm just blessed, and I'm happy to go out there and play the sport that I love," Barkley said. "I keep saying it, I just want to go out there and make plays and try to help my team win games. If that means 30 touches, then that means 30 touches. If that means only five touches, then it's only five touches. Whatever I can do to put my team in a position to win games, that's what I'm going to do."

Meanwhile, Barkley hasn't been the only catalyst to the Giants' 3-1 start. And the team captain wants to make sure everyone knows that. 

"The O-line has been incredible," Barkley said. "Every single one of those guys. Just the way that they're working all on the same page, that's the beauty of the O-line. It takes five guys to be on the same page for one play. If one of them is just a little bit off or especially me, if I'm not reading it right or my steps aren't right, the whole play can be messed up. The O-linemen are doing a great job. 

"I also want to give credit to the tight ends. The tight ends have been doing an amazing job. There's one clip where they took the D-end and moved him five, 10 yards back and you see them celebrating. As a back, that gets you excited. Also, the wide receivers, too, and [Daniel Jones] making the right calls. It's been a collective thing. The beauty is, I feel like we got so much more room to improve and get better. We'll just keep working on it."

Here's what else you need to know from Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center:

*Speaking on his way out to Thursday's practice, coach Brian Daboll said that quarterback Daniel Jones came in "no worse" today after practicing on his sprained ankle on Wednesday. Daboll also said that backup Tyrod Taylor is "making progress" as he works his way through the concussion protocol. Both quarterbacks will travel to London.

*Jones was once again listed as limited on Thursday's injury report, while Taylor did not practice. Cornerback Cor'Dale Flott (calf), defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux (ankle), outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (calf), and wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring) also did not practice. The following players were limited: wide receivers Richie James (ankle) and Wan'Dale Robinson (knee); defensive backs Julian Love (concussion/non-contact), Nick McCloud (hamstring) and Fabian Moreau (foot); offensive tackle Evan Neal (neck); and defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee). 

*Asked how he is preparing as a play-caller for this week, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said, "In the building, we have a plan." Kafka said they have options for whatever may happen, which includes the possibility of Davis Webb playing in his second NFL game and throwing his first regular-season pass. 

"Davis has done a great job even throughout the spring, training camp, preseason," Kafka said. "You saw him play out there. I have a ton of confidence in him. I have a ton of confidence in that whole quarterback room. They do a great job. They're all pros. They treat a game week the right way. They prep the right way. They interact with their teammates. They're great leaders and great teammates. They do all that, as you would expect, at a high level."

Kafka said that coaches who were new to Daboll's offense this offseason leaned on Webb, who spent three seasons with Daboll in Buffalo. 

"It's been great to lean on him because he certainly has a bunch of experience in (the offense) and how it has evolved over the years," Kafka said. "He's been a great resource and obviously when I was first learning it, to be able to talk to him about, 'Hey, look at this, how did you guys see this?' (Quarterbacks coach) Shea's (Tierney) been a great resource as well. In that room, it's surrounded between Dabs, Shea and Davis – those guys had a really good head start on everybody and got everyone caught up really fast. That was huge."

*According to Next Gen Stats, Dexter Lawrence is tied for third among NFL interior defensive linemen with 13 quarterback pressures this season. Voted a team captain in 2022, the 6-foot-4, 342-pounder is coming off his first career two-sack game. 

"The biggest thing is you need to have a center piece of your defense, and he wears that badge with pride," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "We move him around more than what people really realize, and he's done a really nice job. The biggest thing about Dex is he's so selfless. He's just as excited for someone else to have success as he is himself. When guys start playing that way, when they start playing for each other like he has, you'll see good things come from him."

*Players met with the media hours before the team plane departs for the franchise's third trip to London for a regular-season game. Rookie linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth overall pick, is excited for the chance to pick up his first of what many Giants fans hope is many career sacks. He will try to so against one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Aaron Rodgers.

"For me, I would feel the best getting it because it's in London and it will be an international game," Thibodeaux said. "I think that will be cool. When I go against an opponent, I try to just keep that mindset as a nameless, faceless opponent."

View some of the best photos from the Giants' previous trips to play in London.