Saquon Barkley’s debut with Giants should include plenty of touches

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It has been more than two weeks since Saquon Barkley returned to practice following a tweaked hamstring. He’s been running and cutting like, well, Saquon Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick with 4.4 speed and the moves to match, ever since.

There was a play at New York Giants practice last week where he zigged and zagged, stuck his foot in the ground and changed directions to maneuver past a defender without missing a beat. It seemed like good enough confirmation that there shouldn’t be any problems physically in his first career game Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Barkley declared himself ready to handle a full workload in his NFL debut. That should include plenty of touches, but it also won’t completely minimize running backs Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart.7

“You’ve heard me say this in the past, it takes a village with the running backs,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “The running backs that are up are all going to get their touches, and regardless of Saquon, Wayne, Jonathan, whoever is up is going to get their touches.”

The Giants didn’t draft Barkley second overall with the intention of making it a split backfield. The heavy lifting is going to begin Sunday despite just six snaps in the preseason. They’re confident Barkley is healthy — he’s not even on this week’s injury report — and ready to withstand a full workload.

With Shurmur that might include almost 80 percent of the snaps for his rookie running back with somewhere around 25 touches. That’s what Dalvin Cook had in last year’s season opener with Shurmur as his offensive coordinator in Minnesota. It included 22 carries for 127 yards and three catches (on five targets) for 10 yards.

Jerick McKinnon played 11 snaps and Latavius Murray three. They had six and two touches, respectively. That could be indicative of the plan for Gallman and Stewart. china nike

For Barkley, his pass catching is where he may do the biggest damage. There have been plays throughout the summer — including the one that ended with a tweaked hamstring — where he was lined up out wide and beat Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins with a sharp route and sudden explosiveness.