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Saquon Barkley needs the ball more, Pat Shurmur says

Saquon Barkley of the Giants goes up and

Saquon Barkley of the Giants goes up and over teammate Chad Wheeler for a touchdown against the Saints at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 30, 2018. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Pat Shurmur rarely is critical of anyone when speaking publicly. On Monday, he was. And he pointed that condemnation at himself.

“I wish I would have called more runs, all right?” he said. “That’s the reality of that. I think the ball in Saquon [Barkley]’s hands is a good thing.”

Barkley had 16 touches on 10 carries and six receptions. He also was targeted on two other passes that were incomplete, so he had 18 opportunities in all.

“I’d like to have a couple more probably, those being runs,” Shurmur said. “We have a running back who can make yardage when we run. I will always wish [for more touches] with a player like Saquon. He’s got to touch the ball. That’s the reality of it.”

Barkley, of course, was on board with that idea.

“My mindset is to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” he said. “Whether I touch the ball 10 to 15 times or I touch the ball 30 times, whatever it takes. I’ve never really been ‘I need the ball in my hands more.’ Obviously, I would like to touch the ball more, especially if that’s the way the game is going, but I’m aware there are going to be games where the ball is not supposed to be in my hands. Whatever helps the team win I’m more than willing to do.”

Running the ball would not only give Barkley more chances to break off a home run play but theoretically serve to get teams out of the soft zones that have put an umbrella over the top of the offense as a whole. The Giants’ running backs ran for only 50 yards on 12 carries Sunday.

“That’s someplace where I step in and the offensive line steps in,” Barkley said. “That’s something we have to take personally. When we see a team playing cover-2 and a soft zone, that’s disrespectful to us. It’s something we are really aware of and we hope to solve that problem really soon.”

Notes & quotes:  Shurmur seemed dismayed by linebacker Alec Ogletree’s statement that an official on the field told him a call made on Sunday would not have been made in a Super Bowl. “That’s a unique comment,” Shurmur said. “I have no comment.” He did say the Giants would submit a number of plays to the league for explanation, including an iffy horse-collar flag against Janoris Jenkins. “There are a handful of things,” he said. “That’s typical of any week, but I have a bigger handful this week.” . . . Shurmur said he is optimistic that linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) will return to action on Sunday against the Panthers. Of course, he said he was optimistic last week, too . . . Linebacker Josh Mauro returned on Monday from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Giants have a week to add him to the active roster.

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