The New York Giants should have a feel for who Saquon Barkley is after seeing what he’s accomplished before he was hurt. This isn’t a guy who needed a full year to get ready for the NFL. He’s going to be the best player on the field for the Giants in 2018. After the Giants traded up to get him, Barkley said he had an injury that required surgery, but that was at the end of last year. It’s likely that Barkley was just trying to help the Giants sign him by saying the injury wasn’t an issue. If that’s the case, this latest comment about his injury recovery should raise some red flags for Giants fans.

Saquon Barkley made headlines earlier this week by suggesting that he has already begun a rigorous off-season rehab program. That’s a bit of a surprise, since the Giants’ star running back has yet to play a down since suffering a fracture in his left ankle in Week 3 of last season. But even if Barkley’s rehab is going well, the comments he made about it should raise some red flags for Giants fans.

Not only did the New York Giants suffer their fourth consecutive losing season in 2020. They also lost their main running back to injury, which may have affected his career. While no one doubts Saquon Barkley’s work ethic, Giants fans should be concerned about the future given his recent comments.

And if the former Penn State star doesn’t return to his old form, it will only make Dave Gettleman look worse for the way he handled the 2018 NFL Draft.

Saquon Barkley suffered a painful setback in his third year in New York

After being selected as the league’s second overall pick, Barkley was the 2018 NFL Rookie of the Year with 2,028 yards per game and 15 touchdowns. Needless to say, he lived up to expectations in his first year in New York.

Barkley’s second season with the Giants did not go smoothly. He missed three games with a sprained ankle. At the same time, his average dropped from 5 to 4.6 yards per carry and he scored just eight touchdowns. Barkley exceeded the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season, but the Giants ranked 18th in points scored and recorded a disappointing 4-12 record.

Unfortunately for the talented runner, his third NFL season ended shortly after the start. After a forgettable Week 1 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers (15 attempts for six yards, six catches for 60 yards), Barkley had a forgettable day against the Chicago Bears. The 24-year-old had to leave the field because of a knee injury.

Tests confirmed Barkley tore his right anterior cruciate ligament. He hasn’t played a game since the one against the Bears.

The Giants finished the season with a 6-10 record and ranked ninth in points scored. But without Barkley as a booster, Jason Garrett’s team is in second-to-last place in the points standings at 17.5 points per game.

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Giants fans had their worst nightmare when Barkley’s knee gave out in the second round. Although nearly 10 months have passed since that fateful game against the Bears, the fourth-year running back has yet to shake off his worries about what lies ahead. In fact, his comments on The Rich Eisen Show should set off some alarm bells for fans of the historic NFC North franchise.

Barkley, of course, answered Eisen’s questions about his knee injury and his recovery process. But as is the case with potential tacklers, the talented centre-back made some clever moves to avoid clearly reacting to what was in front of him.

If you listen to your body now, your body will speak: Week 1 of the NFL season, Saquon Barkley?

Barkley made no attempt to outline a long-term timeline.

You know, my body tells me it’s ready for the next day, he said. It’s the only thing I can do. I can’t see very far. I have to look at everything from day to day and stick to that approach.

Eisen again tried to get a definitive answer from Barkley about his status.

Am I wrong in this statement? What are you willing to do? He asked.

Barkley avoids the choice of sides.

I can neither agree nor disagree, he replied.

Barkley thanked the team’s medical staff for helping him return to a full game, but his comments should not inspire confidence in his chances of playing at the Pro Bowl level anytime soon. He suffered a serious ankle injury in his second season and then tore his ACL in two games in his third season. It’s not very reassuring to see a daily schedule mentioned so often for someone who plays a short-lived position.

It’s also worth remembering that Barkley had 773 touches in 38 college games, so he entered the NFL with a certain profile. After suffering two lower-body injuries in his first three years in the league, the question is whether he will ever be able to live up to his role as second choice in a class that has produced stars with far more value than even a healthy version of Barkley.

Would the Giants regret picking the former Penn State star?

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Bud Dupree takes on New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley in a game during the 2020 NFL season. | Sarah Steyer/Getty Images

At this point, it’s time to wonder how much longer the Giants will let Dave Gettleman call the shots. Did he know Barkley would be injured if he reached the professional level? No, of course not. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the longtime NFL general manager took a big risk by selecting a running back over a number of other promising players at more important positions.

After Baker Mayfield became the first pick of the Cleveland Browns, Gettleman could have made any decision. Josh Allen would look good in a Giants jersey, wouldn’t he? Or how about Lamar Jackson? Even if Gettleman wants to select a non-quarterback, wouldn’t cornerback Denzel Ward be a big help to Patrick Graham’s defense? What if Rockvan Smith had led the pack on this side of the ball?

Instead, Gettleman made the silly mistake of using the second choice for the defender. As good as Barkley was at Penn State, it didn’t make sense for a team without a young quarterback to pass up prospects like Allen, Jackson and even Sam Darnold.

So if third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, taken by Gettleman as the sixth in 2019, doesn’t make a significant leap forward in 2021 and Barkley plays like a star again, the Giants will only be worse for having failed in the 2018 NFL Draft.

COMPARED TO: Rob Gronkowski calls out Tom Brady for selling big lies to Buccaneers fans

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