MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 05: Saquon Barkley #26 of...

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 05: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants runs with the ball after the catch against the Miami Dolphins in the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on December 05, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Michael Reaves

TUCSON, Ariz. — Saquon Barkley finally had something to smile about. Sort of.

The running back — who has been in a self-described "slump" since returning from his ankle sprain, with both his production and personality far from as bubbly as they used to be — spoke Friday about the strange little jump twist move he sprung on the Dolphins in the third quarter last week.

On third-and-7, he took a handoff and was closing in on the chains when . . .

"I kind of got stuck between a spin and a hurdle," he said. "Obviously, it wasn’t the right decision to make."

Yet it worked. Barkley, despite looking about as graceful as a first-time skydiver flopping through the air, just hoping he’d be able to land, stretched the ball over the imaginary yellow line for a gain of 9 yards and a first down.

That move — and Barkley’s reaction to it — tells us just about all we need to know about where he is as a football player. For the first time in his life, he is caught in the gap between spins and hurdles, unsure where to go and what to do.

Before his knee and ankle issues, his body was on cruise control. He didn’t have to tell his legs when to jump or when to cut, they just did it.

Now? There is a disconnect between what he sees and what he does, so much so that his instincts and his vision sometimes find themselves in conflict.

"There’s a difference between having confidence in yourself and going out there and your body shows that it has confidence in itself, too," he said.

Thus the Saquon Salchow.

Barkley said watching himself play — and struggle — is hard.

"The biggest thing that I can see is . . . the lack of time that has been spent on the football field," he said. "Obviously, you can simulate it in practice and in camp with training, but there is nothing like getting back on the field. That’s going to continue to come as I continue to play more and get back on the field. I see stuff where I’m like, ‘Damn, I have to get better there.’ But I also see stuff where, like, I left my feet for the first time in a minute."

It’s also been a minute since Barkley has had a strong game.

He was just starting to get back to himself earlier this fall when he hurt his ankle in Week 5 against the Cowboys. Since his return, he has had 30 carries for 120 yards and 16 catches for 63. It wasn’t long ago that 183 yards from scrimmage was a good day’s work for him. Now it’s a month’s worth.

On Sunday against the Chargers, the NFL’s 31st-ranked rush defense, Barkley will have another chance to right himself.

"We can’t come in with the mindset of, ‘Oh, they are struggling a little bit, so it should be a cakewalk,’ " he said. "We have to establish the running game, and that starts by establishing the line of scrimmage and me making the right reads and finishing the runs and making plays when the plays are there to make."

And recognizing when to hurdle and when to spin.

Glennon to start. QB Mike Glennon cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and will make his second straight start with Daniel Jones (neck) officially listed as out. Glennon was a full participant in Friday’s practice and was examined by an independent neurologist . . . CB Adoree’ Jackson (quadriceps) and WR Kadarius Toney (oblique) were ruled out. WRs Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) and Kenny Golladay (ribs) and DL Danny Shelton (calf) were listed as questionable but are expected to play . . . The Chargers expect WR Mike Williams and CB Chris Harris to play Sunday after spending time on COVID/reserve as close contacts, but WR Keenan Allen (COVID) has been ruled out.

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