Imagine a player missing just one-and-a-half games because of a high ankle sprain?
The Giants can.
They’re not ready to make it a reality just yet, but they continue to move down the path toward having Saquon Barkley available to them on Sunday against the Vikings.
It would be an almost unprecedented recovery if he is able to play. Then again, this is no ordinary player.
“I think we’ve already seen that there are a lot of things about Saquon that are unique,” Pat Shurmur said Thursday. “We just have to see if this is another part of his uniqueness.”
Barkley looked spry while stretching with the team before Thursday’s practice, then headed off to work with athletic trainers on the side while the team practiced. He did some cutting and high-stepping drills at what looked to be close to full speed, then came onto the field and went through some more football play-specific drills with the staff.
He did not practice in any team reps, but he apparently did take time to admire his moves after the workout by scrolling through some of the many online videos shot during that portion of practice open to the media. Regarding one particular juke, he said: “If you are able to make a cut like that, I don’t think that’s pain.”
For the second straight day, he moved without any sign of a limp, although during some calisthenics, he seemed to make sure he jumped off and landed on his left foot. It’s the right ankle that is sprained.
Barkley would not speak to what will happen Sunday. He said his focus is on getting on the field Friday, which is the last day the team practices and when it issues its injury report that lists players as “out” or “questionable.”
“I think there are certain things we need to see a player do before we deem him ready to play,” Shurmur said. “But deciding whether a player is out or not, those are Friday things. Today is Thursday.”
Barkley does not seem surprised or impressed by the speed of his recovery.
“Does it surprise y’all?” he asked reporters. “Me personally, I feel like a lot of it is mental, how I approach it. I told you guys that the same way I attack the field and attack the weight room, I’m going to attack the training room and attack recovery and rehab. And I think I’ve been doing that.”
Barkley also said he is not worried about coming back too quickly and putting himself at risk for further damage to the ankle. Essentially, he said, he’s built for this.
“I think if you go back and you look at my injury, I don’t care how strong of an ankle I have, how much I lift, how much I run, how much I condition, I just got hit in a bad spot and that’s why I have a sprain,” he said. “That happens . . . If I’m worried about that, I should give up football, and I don’t plan on giving up football anytime soon.
“To be honest, the way I train and the way I operate, it probably should have been way worse than what it actually was. Not any concerns of going back out there and reinjuring it. When you have that mindset, that’s how you get injured again.”
Barkley certainly looks, acts and sounds like someone who wants to play on Sunday.
Ultimately, though, the 22-year-old said he will follow the advice of the Giants’ medical staff. He said he will not fight their final call, whether it comes on Friday or after a pregame workout on Sunday.
“When you say team, it’s not just on the football field,” he said. “I trust my team in here. I think we have some of the best, if not the best, training staff, starting with Ronnie Barnes all the way down . . . I trust their decision. They’ve been doing a great job for me in rehab, just being honest and open with me. Whatever they’d like me to do, I’m willing to do, but I’m always a competitor and do whatever it takes to help my team win.
“If it’s not this Sunday, then it’s not this Sunday.”
But if it is, well, it would only add to the legend that Barkley is building.