ARLINGTON, Texas — The Giants are about to experience Life Without Saquon Barkley, Part 3.
Barkley suffered a left low ankle sprain and likely will miss games, but the Giants were breathing a sigh of relief Sunday when X-rays confirmed the star running back did not suffer a season-ending broken bone, sources told The Post. It will be the third time in four years that Barkley is sidelined, and the Giants are 7-10 without him over the past two seasons.
“It’s fresh, so I’m pretty sure it’s frustrating for him,” receiver Kenny Golladay said. “But he’s in good spirits.”
In the first quarter of a 44-20 loss to the Cowboys, with his head turned in the other direction after an incomplete pass sailed high, Barkley stepped on Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis’ foot as he slowed up on his route. He then stumbled into teammate Kadarius Toney and fell to the ground.
Barkley hobbled off the field, sat on the bench for a few minutes in obvious pain as trainers examined his ankle, and ultimately was loaded onto a cart to return to the locker room. He was quickly ruled out for the game.
“I care about the welfare and health of the player,” coach Joe Judge said. “We’ll do the best thing by him. If he is ready to go out and play, he’ll get out there and play. If there is something we have to [do] to make sure we get him back to health over the course of time, we’ll do that for him, as well.”
The Fox broadcast showed Barkley’s bare foot with immediate heavy swelling. At that point, Dr. David Chao — the former team physician for the Chargers — estimated from afar that it is a “significant lateral inversion ankle sprain.”
“Swelling is common when the shoe is removed,” wrote Chao, whose ProFootballDoc.com site is widely respected within the league. “First-time ankle sprains cause more damage. Not as bad as [a] high-ankle sprain but difficult to return given at least a Grade 2 [of 3] sprain, which means tearing of lateral ligaments.”
The Giants’ season is on the cusp of finished after a 1-4 start, three games behind the NFC East-leading Cowboys. So, they must walk a fine line and not let the uber-competitive Barkley talk his way into the lineup sooner than he is ready and jeopardize his long-term explosiveness.
Barkley missed just three games with a more severe high-ankle sprain in 2019 but wasn’t himself for the first five games after his return, when he averaged 4 yards per carry or fewer week after week. This ankle injury comes just as Barkley looked like himself — a decisive cutback runner — in his return from last October’s surgery on a torn ACL and partially torn meniscus.
Devontae Booker, who was a healthy scratch in Week 3, scored both of the Giants’ touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) but averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. The Giants signed Booker as an insurance policy against Barkley’s knee. Now he might be called upon because of Barkley’s ankle.
“From the eyeball test, he did some solid things for us,” Judge said. “Some tough running. I saw him step up and pick up the [blitzing] safety off the edge. He practices hard, he plays hard, we have confidence in him as a player.”
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