The New York Giants had a rough start to the 2021 NFL season.
They lost to the Denver Broncos by the score of 27-13.
The Giants welcomed back running back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL in the second game of the 2020 season.
It’s official. Saquon Barkley was medically cleared, per source. He is expected to return Sunday for the season opener against the Broncos. Tore his knee in Week 2 of last season. Back 11+ months later.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 12, 2021
He had surgery on October 31, 2020, and has been busy rehabbing ever since.
Saquon Barkley looks ready to play on Sunday, per HC Joe Judge
HE'S BACK 😈 pic.twitter.com/4HBDvFRxfS
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 10, 2021
In his Week 1 return Barkley rushed 10 times for 26 yards but did not have the opportunity to break through any big holes as the Giants offense struggled mightily against the Broncos.
Barkley was rusty; he had not played in nearly one year.
He also did not play in the three preseason games.
Barkley did not take any contact in practice except for three hits within the past two weeks.
Barkley Is A Work-In-Progress
ACL surgery is no joke.
Even for professional athletes who are in peak physical condition, 12 months is a reasonable timeline for full recovery.
Football is a physical sport so teams are cautious with players coming back from an ACL injury.
Barkley played about 50 percent of the offensive snaps.
His longest run was his first one of the game for five yards.
Barkley would not comment on his performance postgame.
He said that he needed to watch the film first, but he also said he would not use his injury as the scapegoat.
“I have to go back and watch the film before I can make a fair judgment on myself…I don’t want to use that as a crutch.”
The only admission from Barkley was that he needed to “knock some rust off.”
He will bounce back after more reps in practice.
Joe Judge says unless the medical team tells him otherwise the plan is for star RB Saquon Barkley to play Thursday vs. Washington. And to continue to ramp him up as the season progresses. #Giants
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 13, 2021
The Giants Need A Healthy Barkley
It is clear that the Giants offense needs a healthy Barkley.
The team only earned three of its 19 total first downs from rushing.
There were only 20 rushing plays in the entire game for a total of 60 rushing yards earned.
The most productive rushing play was quarterback Daniel Jones‘ touchdown run which came at the end of the game when the outcome was already definite.
The Giants fell behind and without Barkley completely at 100 percent, the team struggled.
OBJ Is In The Same Position
Barkley’s former teammate, Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, also tore his ACL last season.
His surgery was on November 10, 2020, less than two weeks after Barkley’s procedure.
Barkley and OBJ worked out together in the offseason.
OBJ also was held out of preseason and was a game-time decision for the Browns Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He ultimately did not play, feeling he could not go yet.
Despite the medical advances, a torn ACL is still a significant injury to come back from.
NFL players liked Barkley and OBJ who must run, make quick cuts, change pace, and take hits to the legs have to get over both the mental and physical aspects of this injury.
What’s Ahead For The Giants
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) September 14, 2021
The Giants take on the Washington Football Team in Week 2 on a Thursday night game that requires a quick turnaround for both Barkley’s Giants and the WFT who lost quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1 to a hip injury.