Saquon Barkley has inserted himself into the conversation for the Giants' Monday Night Football game against the Seahawks despite sustaining a high ankle sprain in Week 2 that originally looked as if it could sideline him for longer.
Barkley was limited on Thursday, running routes and doing agility exercises in the portion of practice open to the media. He took part in at least some team drills afterward.
Though players in the locker room underlined that it was too early to tell what that will mean for Week 4, it did provide some hope for an anemic Giants offense that ran the ball just 11 times for 29 yards in their 30-12 loss to the 49ers in Week 3.
Barkley has sustained a high ankle sprain twice before, with the injury costing him three games in 2019 and four games in 2021.
The plan Thursday was to “let him run around and see how he does,” coach Brian Daboll said. “But again, making progress. I think this is a good evaluation today in pads to see where he’s at.”
Barkley sustained the injury late in the game against the Cardinals on Sept. 17 and had to be helped off the field, but Daboll earlier this week classified him as day-to-day and remarked that Barkley was a quick healer.
“He’s an important part of our team for sure but he’s working as hard as he can to get back,” Daniel Jones said, declining to opine on whether he believed Barkley would be well enough to factor in on Monday.
Darius Slayton noted that Barkley’s return would mean “a lot, but we’ll see. I hope he heals up as quickly as he can and that would be great to have him out there.”
A return gives the Giants a necessary additional element against a strong-but-inconsistent Seahawks interior that allowed 102 rushing yards to the Lions in Week 2.
“I think we’ve done some good things at times, and we haven’t executed where we needed to at times, too,” Jones said. “So, we need to be more consistent, [we've] got to find ways to sustain drives and score more points.”
And while the Seahawks have given up the second-most passing yards in the NFL, they’re getting back two pivotal pieces this week. Three-time Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams is expected to make his 2023 debut, and cornerback Tariq Woolen will further bolster their secondary against a Giants team that has averaged just 14.3 points over their first three games.
“Downhill player, can play in the box, makes a lot of tackles, very physical,” Daboll said of Adams, the former Jet. "Where they play, whether it's [Seahawks cornerback Quandre] Diggs, [Seahawks safety and former Giant Julian] Love or him, and he's back, and they have three guys out there, and they decide to do something with him versus the other guys, that'll be something that we'll have to see as the game goes on. But tough, smart, headsy player. Can make a lot of tackles, can be very disruptive, particularly if they bring him up, whether it's off the press, off the slot, whether he plays in the back end.”
The Giants, though, looked primed to get back some important players too. Everyone practiced Thursday, with a handful of key pieces returning to limited participation. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) was limited in practice after not playing Sunday while guard Ben Brederson was a full go after sustaining a concussion — two significant factors if the Giants want to see more from Jones, who was fully contained by the 49ers.
Edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) also looked closer to a return. Other limited practice participants were tight end Daniel Bellinger (neck) and defensive lineman D.J. Davidson (elbow).