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Saquon Barkley looks to get off to a running start against Cowboys in MNF rematch

Saquon Barkley of the Giants runs the ball

Saquon Barkley of the Giants runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Two of the NFL’s best running backs will be on the same field again under the Monday night lights at MetLife Stadium — Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott in a Giants-Cowboys rematch.

“There’s times where I get to catch [Elliott] on film or catch a game; he’s always putting on a show,” Barkley said after the Giants practiced Friday. “He’s one of my favorite backs in the league.”

Elliott beat out Barkley for the league’s rushing title last season. Barkley outrushed Elliott 120-53, in Week 1 at Dallas, but the Cowboys won the game, 35-17. So Barkley is looking forward to another crack at the NFC East leaders, who are 4-3. The Giants are 2-6 and on a four-game slide.

“It’s always a great opportunity to try to get a win in your division, whether it’s Dallas, the Redskins or the Eagles,” Barkley said. “But they got us the first time, so we’ll get a shot at them again, not only just to try to get a win, but just to try to get things rolling as a team.”

Barkley and the running game need to get rolling again, too.

In his last two games — after missing three with a high ankle sprain — Barkley ran for 72 yards and 4.0 per carry against Arizona and 64 yards and 3.4 per carry against Detroit. The blocking and the game situations, of course, were factors. The Giants haven’t owned a lead during their losing streak. Barkley has a career average of 5.0 yards per carry.

“I think it’s important to get him going,” Pat Shurmur said. “Two games ago, he had a long [32-yard] run that was negated by a hold. And he had an impact on the game as a receiver last week. And so I think the important thing for him is when he touches the ball to make yards, whether we hand it to him or throw it to him.”

Barkley’s two 100-yard rushing games were in the first two weeks. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula said, “Like everything else, we feel like we’re close.”

“Since I came back, yeah, close,” Barkley said.

This should be the first game in which the Giants have Barkley, Evan Engram, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard — who was cleared from the concussion protocol on Friday — playing at the same time with Daniel Jones.

“I don’t think just that is going to make us better,” Barkley said. “I don’t think we’re bad. I think we just need to figure out how to win games.”

Notes & quotes: General manager Dave Gettleman told Giants.com that new trade acquisition Leonard Williams is “a legitimate three-down player” on the defensive line and that the Giants’ “goal is to sign him long term.” Williams could play a major role right away. “I guess we’re three-quarters of the way through the week and he’s not making mistakes,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said . . . Defensive back/kick returner Corey Ballentine was cleared from the concussion protocol.

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