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Giants' Joe Judge: Saquon Barkley needs contact before playing in regular-season

Giants Wire logo Giants Wire 8/26/2021 Tyler Henry
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Ever since New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkey went down with a season-ending knee injury last season, many questions followed regarding his road back to the field.

With the season opener creeping closer, there is still a chance that Saquon is ready for Week 1.

With the sport being as violent as it is and the style of running back that Barkley is, it’s going to be hard for the Giants to protect the former first-round pick once he hits the field.

However, with the amount the Giants have invested in Barkley, they want to be sure the running back is ready before he takes the field in his first game back from injury. In fact, head coach Joe Judge has made it clear that Barkley needs to take a few hits before playing in a regular season game.

“The most important part is for him to get out here and get football movement, reaction on movement against an opponent. He hasn’t seen seven-on-seven, yet. He hasn’t seen 11-on-11, yet. These things we have to build up with him,” Judge told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve talked with the other coaching staff as they have with us about their players. We’re going to work together on this and make sure that both teams can operate to make progress this week and improve and be safe at the same time.”


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Judge is clearly behind the medical staff’s guidance, although certainly both Saquon and Judge are both itching to get their star back on the field.

“I think every player has to have physical contact and experience the hits they’re going to take in a game before it becomes live, full speed in the regular season. The reality of the nature is, the speed of the game increases from preseason to regular season to postseason. That’s just what happens,” Judge said. “For us to put a player on the field without preparing him either through practice or preseason games without contact, we’re putting that player in danger and at a disservice.

“I know a lot of people want to put their head in a box and pretend it doesn’t exist, doesn’t happen. The reality is when you go out there in Denver, Washington, Atlanta, that’s live bullets now. They’re flying around. They’re trying to hit our players as hard as they can, as we are to them, make good form tackles and end a play. So, the best thing you can do for your players is prepare them for what they’re going to see by putting them in controlled situations, experience the technique, let your body get used to the contact as close and collisions that are going to happen in a game, and then build on that as it goes to more 11-on-11 situations.

“I don’t have a number of hits to go back to [the] original question. In terms of is it necessary? I would absolutely say that contact of some form is absolutely necessary. Now, we’ll decide what kind of contact it is and what kind of controlled drill we’re going to put him in before putting him in 11-on-11 and what we allow him to do. But before we put him out there in live contact and just say Godspeed, we’re going to make sure this guy’s prepared, because my number one priority is his health. Before anything else, it’s the health of the player before we get on to anything else.”

Barkley did not participate in joint practices with the New England Patriots on Wednesday, having been excused to handle a personal matter. He is expected back on Thursday and is likely to finally see some live reps.

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