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The temptation of Saquon Barkley

Takeaways from OC Mike Shula’s Thursday press conference

NFL: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley’s big-play ability can be too tempting sometimes.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The temptation is always there.

Saquon Barkley knows with his burst, he is just one cut to the outside from a big play, from a game-changing run.

He is tied for third in the NFL for the most rushes of 20 yards or more (seven) and tied for first for the most rushes of 40 yards or more (three).

The problem is that extra cut sometimes results in a loss or no gain, leaving precious yards out on the field. It’s especially a problem when the Giants rank 24th in the NFL in offense (344.8 yards per game) and 26th in scoring (19.7).

And Barkley knows it.

“It is tempting,” said the No. 2 overall draft pick out of Penn State. “The way I’ve been trying to play is take what the defense gives you, and when you get a chance, try to make them pay for it. I just got to continue to trust the system, and trust the team, and trust the offensive line, and trust myself.”

Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula is aware of the 6-foot, 233-pound Barkley’s tendency to try to hit a home run on every touch — sometimes at the expense of a more pedestrian, but productive gain. Shula chalked it up to the rookie running back’s inexperience.

“I think that he’s very physical. I think he showed that on some runs,” Shula said. “I think there might have been one or two that maybe he could’ve continued to kind of push it up the middle instead of cutting back.

“But the minute you say that and say, ‘Hey, hit it up in there,’ then all of a sudden he cuts one back for 25 yards. And then you say, ‘Hey, great run.’”

Shula expects Barkley (586 rushing yards in nine games; 4.5 yards per carry) to only improve.

In his weekly press conference Thursday, Shula also addressed Eli Manning, an improved performance from the offensive line and new addition Corey Coleman.

On continuity on the O line as a reason it played maybe its best game of the season in the victory Monday night over the 49ers, yielding only one sack:

“Well, we hope to every week play with the same guys, but for sure I think probably one of the best things we did was pass protect. Now that was one game and guys did a really good job in all the down and distances and against some pressure as well. I think it goes back to not just them, but getting the ball out on time, guys getting open on time, things like that. But the continuity is important, and hopefully we can have some similar results this week with the same guys.”

On Manning (19-of-31, 188 yards, 3 TDs vs. the 49ers) playing at his best in an uptempo offense and if that can be implemented throughout the game and not just the fourth quarter:

“I think that we look at that each and every week and I think there’s times that I think we always want to be ready to do that. We want to have that ready for coach Shurmur at any point to do that early in the game. We have been good at it. Unfortunately, we’ve had a little too much of it at the end of games when we’ve had to do it, as opposed to when we want to do it. I think that’s the most important thing.

“But we got Eli with a lot of experience, who’s got a fast mind and gets everybody lined up in a position that makes quick decisions, so that’s good to see. Whether or not we do it or not do it, we want to have the ability of when we are called upon to do it to be successful and get the ball moving.”

On new arrival Corey Coleman, who arrived with a notorious past after being traded by Cleveland and cut by Buffalo and New England earlier this season:

“I think he’s just come in everyday and wanting to learn. He’s got a smile on his face. He’ll do anything you ask him to do. He’s been in a few systems, so obviously it’s – sometimes when that happens, sometimes you kind of think back like, ‘OK, we did it like this,’ then all of a sudden we’re saying the same thing. But it means totally opposite to him, so those are the things that as time goes on he’ll continue to learn and feel more comfortable with what we’re doing.

“As we know, as you guys know, he’s very talented. He’s fast. We saw that in the return game, but he’s got good hands. And I think the biggest thing now is just to kind of put him in situations that he’s comfortable with, not give him too much too soon and then just see how he grows.”