The Giants have not yet ruled out “quick healer” Saquon Barkley | Albiseyler

Jordan RaananESPN staff writerSeptember 19, 2023, 2:04 PM ET4 minutes of reading

Who needs to step up for the Giants in Saquon Barkley’s absence?

The “Monday Night Countdown” crew discusses how the Giants will handle the next few weeks without star RB Saquon Barkley.

TEMPE, Ariz. — New York Giants coach Brian Daboll refused to rule out Saquon Barkley despite the ankle injury his star suffered in Sunday’s 31-28 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Giants play the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

When a reporter suggested that Barkley would miss time, Daboll interrupted.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” he said. “Not yet.”

When pressed on whether Barkley would miss at least Thursday night, he didn’t go there either.

“I’m not saying he’s out yet,” Daboll said when a reporter suggested they would be without Barkley against the 49ers. “He’s a fast healer. I’m not saying he’s in, he’s out. We’ll discuss it with him until Thursday.”

“But he’s feeling a lot better (Tuesday).”

Daboll said they will hold off on making a decision until Thursday. Barkley was projected to “not practice” on Monday, with the Giants holding only walk-ons in Arizona. They plan to fly to California on Wednesday.

It still remains likely that Barkley will miss time with an injury. When the diagnosis came out Monday, it was suggested he was expected to miss three weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Giants (1-1) have 11 days before games after the San Francisco game.

It still seems likely that Barkley will miss a few games, though Daboll says he’s making “significant progress” and that he’s a quick healer. Barkley missed three games in 2019 with an ankle injury and four in 2021 with an ankle problem. On both occasions, he struggled upon his return and took several weeks to return to his previous form.

In his first four games back from the ankle injury in 2019, Barkley averaged just 41.25 yards per game. He averaged just 46.0 yards per game in his first four games back from an ankle injury in 2021 and later admitted he wasn’t himself.

It would be beneficial for the players and the team not to rush Barkley back.

“I’m just saying with any injury, until you’re with the player, you see the player — you might heal a little bit differently than I heal, he might heal differently than another player,” Daboll said. “Saquon, again, is a lot better than I thought he was going to be or some other people thought he was going to be (Tuesday).

“We’re just going to take it day by day with him and if he can do it, great. If not, we’ll see if he gets better next week.”

The Giants have three options to return — Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and Eric Gray — if Barkley misses Thursday’s game. Breida is expected to step up and play the biggest role. Daboll mentioned this week that they have spent several seasons together (since they were in Buffalo) and that he “knows the offense.”

Breida is also the most trusted option as a pass blocker, which will likely give him plenty of catches.

Brightwell should also get some snaps, while Gray could be used sporadically as a running back and pass catcher. The rookie out of Oklahoma has struggled in pass blocking this summer.

“The three guys we have behind Saquon, they’re all here for a reason. We’re comfortable with all of those guys whether we’re running or passing. … We trust them.”

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