Barkley returned to practice earlier this month but has yet to step on the field in a preseason game. He is, however, planning to participate in team drills during this week’s joint practices with the New England Patriots.
“That would be a big, big step forward, and the reason why is simple,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport explained on the air today. “They can trust the Patriots to not do anything bad and essentially put Saquon Barkley and his surgically repaired knee at risk.”
Giants head coach Joe Judge said as much in a conversation with Rapoport’s colleague Kim Jones before today’s preseason game against Cleveland.
Pregame, NYG-CLE: Joe Judge said he’ll feel “better” about putting Saquon in 7-on-7 & team drills this week if NE defenders like Dont’a Hightower are on field. “They’ll take care of him,” JJ said. Also NYG have “absolutely not” ruled Saquon out for season opener.
— Kim Jones (@KimJonesSports) August 22, 2021
The Giants have been coy about Barkley’s status for Week 1 against Denver, but have not officially ruled him out, as Judge made clear. If he does play, he’ll likely be limited, but just getting him out there would be a win for New York.
“For that to happen, he’s going to have to continue to progress, continue to take positive steps forward,” Rapoport said. “He gets on the field against New England, shows that burst, protects himself in those team reps, maybe Week 1 is a bigger possibility than it was a few months ago.”
From our pregame @NFLTotalAccess: The #Giants will look for a big step forward for RB Saquon Barkley, as he's set to take part in team drills next week during joint practices with the #Patriots. pic.twitter.com/tdUm1JF27z
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 22, 2021
The Giants will practice against the Patriots in the coming days before playing New England next Sunday night.