ALLEN PARK, Mich. — From spectacular to spectator in less than 24 hours.
That's what happened to Saquon Barkley, the Giants' rookie running back who suffered a mild hamstring strain while making an electrifying catch down the sideline in Monday's practice in New Jersey and was planted safely on the sideline during Tuesday's joint workout with the Lions at their facility.
How long he'll remain out of action remains to be seen, but the Giants seem to think it won't be significantly long.
"He just tweaked his hamstring," head coach Pat Shurmur said. "He's day-to-day. We'll just see where he's at. Really nothing there."
Asked if it was a serious injury, Shurmur spoke in Tarzan syllables.
"Tweaked," he said. "Day to day."
While most of the rest of the team was in full pads pounding away, Barkley was wearing just his pants and jersey without equipment underneath. When the team warmed up he kept himself busy on the side catching lightly tossed footballs. He stretched a bit with the team when they went through their formal pregame routine, which included very light jogging, and hung around the running backs during early individual drills. At one point he pitched in as best he could by pawing at the football while his position-mates ran past him over a rope ladder, but he did it with the intensity of an old cat nudging a ball of yarn.
There were points during the practice when Barkley was slightly more active than others. At one point during some special teams drills on a nearby field he worked with strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman on some resistance moves and some stretching with an elastic band binding his legs.
Even before the injury on Monday the Giants had been handling Barkley with an abundance of caution. It was a rare sight throughout training camp for him to play in consecutive reps as he split time with Jonathan Stewart and Wayne Gallman in the backfield. There were days earlier in camp when he stopped getting reps altogether.
Shurmur said back then that one of the reasons he was comfortable limiting Barkley's looks was because the rookie had been performing at a high level and picking up his assignments at such a brisk pace. Now he'll have to continue taking those "mental reps" instead of the physical ones for the time being.
"I think it's important that guys can play," Shurmur said. "If they can't get out there then we'll get them out there as soon as we can."
And with Barkley, that's still an unclear time frame. It seems unlikely he will take the field during practices with the Lions on Wednesday and Thursday or play in the preseason game on Friday. The more probable scenario is that the Giants wait until they return to New Jersey next week to get him back on the field, assuming he is ready by then.
"Certainly player safety is right on the front burner for all of us all the time," Shurmur said when asked if Barkley will play Friday. "If he's able to go, he'll play. If he's not, then he won't go."