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Saquon Barkley yet to be welcomed to the NFL by Damon Harrison

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) talks to

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) talks to the media during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ, on Friday, July 27, 2017. Credit: Brad Penner

Back in the spring, Damon Harrison said he was looking forward to welcoming Saquon Barkley to the NFL with a big hit in practice. Through the first week, that introduction has not yet taken place.

“I haven’t had my opportunity because the kid can run, man,” Harrison, the Giants’ nose tackle, said on Wednesday.

Harrison did manage to hit Barkley with a few other kind words.

“I know you all see him out there catching passes out of the backfield and I don’t want to put expectations on the kid without having him play a few games, but I think if he continues to prepare and approach the game as he has been, I think he’ll be fine,” he said.

As for Barkley’s place on the team, coming in as a highly touted rookie, Harrison said that has gone smoothly too.

“He’s in the locker room, he’s talking with everybody, which is a good thing to see as well,” he said. “For somebody like him it would be easy for him to stick with [Jonathan] Stewart or [Wayne] Gallman or even the receivers, but he’s over by the defensive line a lot as well as the secondary and the linebackers. I think he’s a perfect fit for this locker room.”

One rookie Harrison has had the chance to welcome to the NFL is second-round pick Will Hernandez. Back in minicamp in June, the two of them got into an ugly on-field fight that included Harrison pulling Hernandez’s helmet off his head and swinging it at him (he barely missed connecting with Hernandez’s head). They’ve gone against each other without incident so far this training camp.

“I don’t have anything against the guy, man,” Harrison said. “The guy will be one hell of a player in this league. It’s one thing to do it in college, but to do it at the NFL level, it’s a totally different thing. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him first-hand and I think he’ll be a really good player in this league.”

As for the fight?

“That wasn’t anything but football,” Harrison said, “and if you don’t believe that then obviously you don’t know the game.”

New York Sports