Giants not risking Saquon Barkley’s health in joint practices

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The Giants haven’t been extra cautious with Saquon Barkley’s return from a torn ACL just to risk a young, overexcited Browns player accidentally causing a setback by trying to prove himself to the coaching staff

Joe Judge revealed Sunday a plan to take all injured players to Cleveland in advance of joint practices with the Browns on Thursday and Friday, before the teams meet in the second preseason game.

But Barkley’s work will be limited to individual drills or rehab off to the side or indoors.

“At this point, the focus is to get him moving more and more with football movements,” Judge said. “In terms of what that’s going to mean for him in Cleveland … I wouldn’t anticipate him being in any kind of live drills this week. We’ll see where it goes as we go down further and further when his body is ready for all of football.”

Joint practices are valuable to coaches from an evaluation standpoint, but they also introduce uncontrolled variables. Judge can’t reprimand Browns players for going too hard when adrenaline gets a natural boost from seeing an opposing jersey.

Saquon Barkley
Robert Sabo

Judge’s mentor, Bill Belichick, has a reputation for playing on-the-mend Patriots during the preseason, including Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Neither of those stars is an injury-susceptible running back, however. Before Judge joined the Patriots as an assistant, Belichick famously played Tom Brady in three preseason games in 2009 after his own season-ending ACL tear.

The Giants activated Barkley from the Physically Unable to Perform list and introduced him to practice last week but remain vague about whether Barkley will be ready Week 1 or not until Week 3 — after the one-year anniversary (Sept. 20) of his knee injury (including a strained MCL and partially torn meniscus).

“He responded well to the volume with our plan of putting him through a couple days, backing him off, ramping him back up,” Judge said. “[Trainers and doctors] have a really good feel for his body working with him throughout these last few months in the rehab process.”

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