Saquon Barkley of the Giants prepares for a game against...

Saquon Barkley of the Giants prepares for a game against the Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As he almost always does, Saquon Barkley this week wrote some of his goals for the upcoming game in his notebook. Among the things he wants to accomplish when he takes the field against Washington on Thursday night are continuations of what he took from his return to action on Sunday. He said he wants to knock off a little more rust from his body after not having played in a football game in just less than a full calendar year, and he wants to build on getting a feel for the flow of the game, something that he said was difficult for him given his limited use in Week 1.

But then he wrote something else.

"Getting back to what I do best," he said he jotted down. "Find a way to be productive and help the team win."

That’s the next logical step in his ballyhooed return to the NFL after suffering a torn ACL last Sept. 20.

"My explosiveness to me is not a problem," he said. "I feel like it’s all there still. I didn’t really give myself the opportunity or have an opportunity to break a long one, so I guess I couldn’t show that…. But when I get the opportunity to make a big play [on Thursday], make a big play."

The Giants offense certainly could use that. They didn’t have a designed running play that went longer than 6 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Barkley didn’t carry the ball more than 5 yards on any of his 10 carries.

But writing it down in a notebook is very different than actually doing it. Barkley himself said it is not "ideal" to play in two games in five days coming back from a major injury as he is. And not being on the field for almost every snap like he is used to doing throughout his career is an adjustment as well.

"It is hard, but that’s part of it," Barkley said. "Obviously I want to go out there and try to be that ‘do it all’ guy and help the team win. But it’s the nature of what I’m coming off of. The way I get back into the flow of that is just by taking the plays that I get and trying to capitalize as much as I can and staying locked in on the sideline when I’m not in, mentally and physically. Every time I do get in, go back to just trying to make those plays."

Barkley admitted last week that he felt one of the reasons he got injured in 2020 was a desire to try to do too much. He was coming off a miserable game in which he had run for just 6 yards on 15 carries against the Steelers and wanted to silence the doubters and critics who were taking aim at him for the first time in his career. He ran for 28 yards on four carries in that fateful game at Soldier Field before he was carted off for the rest of the year.

This week, he’s coming back from a less-than-stellar performance in the opener as well. The difference is that he was actually pleased with how things went for him… other than the outcome of the final score.

"Obviously you want to come back and rush for this amount of running yards and touchdowns and all of that to help your team win," he said, "but for me, I really don’t see any frustrations… For me, it’s just take it and roll with it, learn from it, move on, get the rust out and get out there on Thursday against a divisional opponent and try to come out with a win."

As it says on the top of one of the pages in his notebook this week, get back to what he does best.

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