Saquon Barkley declined on Friday to go into detail about the ankle injury that has sidelined him since Oct. 10. But he did not hesitate when asked to describe its psychological effect on him.
"It sucks," the Giants running back said after practice, speaking to reporters for the first time in about five weeks. "As a competitor, you want to be out there.
"I just went a whole year, missed 14 games because of a knee [injury in 2020] and having to watch all the games on TV or being there [in the stadium]. Then having to miss three or four games, obviously it sucks."
It appears, though, that Barkley’s most recent wait might be over.
He was limited in practice on Friday and coach Joe Judge said no decision has been made about whether he will play against the Bucs on Monday night. But things seem to be heading in that direction.
"I feel pretty good, getting better every day," Barkley said.
He played in just two games last season because of a torn ACL. He had 195 rushing yards and another 130 receiving this season when he rolled his left ankle against the Cowboys upon stepping on the foot of Dallas’ Jourdan Lewis.
Initially, there was hope Barkley would miss only a week or two. Instead, he has missed four games. "When the MRIs came back, obviously we knew it was going to be a little more difficult than we thought," he said.
Barkley said he might have been able to return against the Raiders on Nov. 7 had not a false positive COVID-19 test sidelined him that practice week.
"Definitely I guess you could say that set me back from I would have liked to accomplish," he said. "But no one knows, and I can’t predict that."
Barkley said he spent his forced COVID-19 break playing the "Madden NFL" video game – he never chooses the Giants because "it’s too close to home" – and board games with his family.
He was able to keep up with his fitness because he has a gym in the basement of his home.
Asked if he feels "100%," Barkley admitted to some soreness from the rehab process.
He said he has not considered what his two significant injuries in two years might do to his future contract value. He said he is focused only on the present.
"Everything we want to accomplish is still out there, so just try to get back as healthy as I can and try to make a run at this thing," Barkley said of the 3-6 Giants.
"I have a ‘C’ on my chest for a reason, to be a leader," he said, adding his expectations are simply to "take it one day at a time, be the leader that I am and be the playmaker that I know I can be and know that I will be."
Notes & quotes: S Logan Ryan missed practice because of COVID-19 protocols. While he was not ruled out by Judge, he seems unlikely to play Monday. The Giants said Ryan was tested on Thursday because of a close contact outside the facility and was negative. He tested positive on Friday. Julian Love figures to play a bigger role if Ryan is out. "It’s definitely a blow, but we have some resilient guys," Love said . . . LB Lorenzo Carter missed practice with a non-COVID illness.