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Giants' Saquon Barkley anticipating better anticipation in the backfield this season

Giants running back Saquon Barkley during training camp

Giants running back Saquon Barkley during training camp in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. Credit: Brad Penner

The key word for Saquon Barkley this season is anticipation.

Not from us for what the Giants' second-year running back will be able to accomplish after a phenomenal rookie season (although that anticipation is fairly high too). No, rather from Barkley himself on a snap-to-snap basis.

Barkley said early in training camp that one of the “little things” he wants to improve on this year is his ability to see plays develop while still in his stance in the backfield.

“Before we say ‘hike’ I’m trying to be able to read the defense and know exactly where we’re going to block and who is my most dangerous man,” he said.

Barkley said those things can come from film study of specific opponents, but he wants to be able to make such reads on the field as they come up rather than rely on recall. He wants to better understand the concepts, in other words, not just memorize the answers to the test.

“It’s a lot easier when you have a grasp of what’s actually going to happen than when you go out here you don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I’m trying to do that, figure out the defense real quick and figure out what my linemen are going to do, and boom, who’s my guy. Trying to make the play work, instead of reacting.”


Rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton hasn’t been able to practice since injuring his hamstring last Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped him from showing up regularly in another way.

“A lot of the tapes we are watching right now of installs are of guys who were here in the spring, and a lot of the plays we are showing the whole team now, are plays that he made,” wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. “It stands out. It’s noticeable all of the plays he was making throughout the spring.”

Slayton is expected back “soon,” the Giants have said, possibly even this week. For a wide receiver group that has been hit hard by bad news so far in training camp, having Slayton back could provide a nice boost. And for a fifth-round pick who was pegged as the "most improved" in the offseason training program, it will be an opportunity to get back to conquering his learning curve.

“We are waiting for him to get healed, get out there and be full speed so we can coach him back up again and run the routes,” Tolbert said. “Whenever he is ready to be out there, obviously he is going to get thrown into the fire really quick.”

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