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With fantasy football draft season now in full force, plenty of draft dorks are stressing over the availability of dynamic running back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL last year. Worry no more, fellow fantasy freaks, we have some answers. Giants head coach Joe Judge has insinuated that Barkley isn’t quite ready for contact, so it’s looking more and more likely that the fourth-year running back will begin the season on the sidelines.
New York Giants coach Joe Judge says RB Saquon Barkley needs to experience live contact before playing in a regular season game. https://t.co/ZcsqG573oL
— TheGiantsWire (@TheGiantsWire) August 26, 2021
Barkley spent the summer in a red no-contact jersey at Giants practices, and he still needs to adjust to the speed and physicality of the game before he’s cleared for game action.
“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,” head coach Joe Judge told reporters. “The reality is, the speed of the game increases from preseason to regular season to postseason. That’s just what happens. 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.”
Though he’s still participating on a limited basis, Judge plans to carefully increase his running back’s workload: “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.”
Just over two weeks from the season opener, it appears Barkley still has some work to do, according to Judge: “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.”
The NFL season is marathon, not a sprint — especially since the league added a 17th game to the schedule. Holding Barkley back another few weeks may not seem ideal in the short term, but it makes the most sense long term.
Adjust your draft boards accordingly.