Can the New York Giants muster any type of running game without Saquon Barkley?
It’s only Week 3, but the New York Giants may have saved their season with their come-from-behind win against the Arizona Cardinals last weekend. After dropping a 40-0 decision at home to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the Giants went scoreless in the first half of Week 2 against the Cardinals and trailed 20-0. They rode the right arm of quarterback Daniel Jones and the legs of running back Saquon Barkley to show signs of life in the second half.
The good news for the Giants is they pulled out a 31-28 victory. The bad news is they lost Barkley in the process. Barkley injured his ankle on New York’s final scoring drive of the game and needed help leaving the field. How long is Barkley expected to be out?
Giants coach Brian Daboll referred to Saquon Barkley as a ‘quick healer’
Saquon Barkley has seen this before. He missed all but two games of the 2020 season with a torn ACL but bounced back nicely with a Pro Bowl season a year ago. He’s suffered ankle injuries before and has been able to return to form.
Barkley scored twice in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals. He rushed for a team-high 63 yards and a touchdown and added a 9-yard touchdown reception from Jones. Barkley was helped off the field in the fourth quarter, putting a damper on New York’s second-half rally.
The Giants don’t have much time to savor the win or to get Barkley healthy enough for their next game. They are right back in action Thursday night when they travel to face the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. Daboll didn’t immediately rule out Barkley for the Niners game, calling his star back a “quick healer” on Tuesday, according to ESPN.
Barkley has since been ruled out for the game. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that his sources have told him Barkley is expected to miss three weeks.
Without Barkley, where do the Giants turn?
Don’t expect the 49ers to feel sorry for the short-handed Giants this week. San Francisco boasts a top-notch defense led by Nick Bosa, arguably the best edge rusher in the game. With Barkley sidelined, where do the Giants look when they need to run the ball?
Matt Brieda and Gary Brightwell will likely split the carries in the backfield. Rookie Eric Gray could also see some action. Brieda is in his seventh season in the NFL, his second with the Giants. He has just three carries for 14 yards this season. Brightwell was a sixth-round pick by the Giants in 2021. He has one carry this year.
Compounding the problems for the Giants’ running game is that they will also be without two starting offensive linemen Thursday. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring), and left guard Ben Bredeson (concussion) are both out.
The good news is the Giants have 11 days off before their Week 4 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, giving Barkley some extra healing time.