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Saquon Barkley getting closer to return, but for now he's teaching other Giants running backs

Giants running back Saquon Barkley walks off the

Giants running back Saquon Barkley walks off the field after practice during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Friday. Credit: Brad Penner

Saquon Barkley used his right arm to push inside on the defender, gave a head juke in that same direction, then spun to his left in the end zone, whipping his head around to look for the pass that was coming his way for a touchdown.

But it never did. Because Barkley is still on PUP, still recovering from his torn ACL. And that route he ran was actually a teaching moment in which he was sharing some techniques with Devontae Booker, the fellow Giants running back who is taking his place with the starting offense until Barkley can return to the field and play.

He’s getting closer, but he’s not there yet.

"What I’ve seen from him every day is a guy that comes out and he’s just very focused on keeping it narrow and just understands that today is what’s important and he’s got to go ahead and take a step forward every day," Joe Judge said of Barkley. "It leads to those building blocks day by day for long term success. So, I’m very pleased with where he’s at."

Thursday appeared to be the most rigorous day of work for Barkley as he did what seemed like full-speed running and cutting. On Friday, he was wearing a soft compression brace on his right knee and, for the first time in training camp, was wearing his helmet. Baby steps! He did some running and worked on catching passes off the machine, some of them while standing on one leg.

At this point, though, Barkley’s main contribution to the Giants has come from those little teaching moments like the one he had with Booker. Those occur not just on the field, but off it too.

"He’s been really good," Booker told Newsday of Barkley’s presence among the running backs. "Any question I have or anyone has in the room he is able to answer them for us. If it’s something little or something we need to know, he’s been good. He’s been a great teammate so far."

Added fellow running back Corey Clement: "Saquon is very attentive. It’s like he’s still out there on the field in a physical form. It shows his true character. It shows his true humbleness and his true love toward the game. He’s not backing down one bit. That’s somebody you want in your corner and want to get a chance to play with."

Maybe soon. Until then, Barkley will continue to work with the trainers who are trying to make him better, and continue to work with the other running backs trying to make them better.

"He’s got a great attitude," Judge said. "He’s shown a ton of leadership for us right now."

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