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Saquon Barkley injury: New York Giants players react

“Everybody’s gotta step up” in effort to replace star running back

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The present landscape of the New York Giants changed drastically on Sunday when Saquon Barkley suffered what is believed to be a torn right ACL. Here is how teammates who spoke to media via videoconference after the game reacted to the injury.

Veteran running back Dion Lewis carried 10 times for 20 yards and a touchdown and caught 4 passes for 36 more yards in Barkley’s absence.

“I spoke with him. I just told him to keep his head up, stay positive, believe in God. Nobody knows what’s really going on right now, so just try to keep his head up,” Lewis said. “He’s a great kid, and we’ve grown extremely close since I’ve been here, so you know, definitely feel for him.”

Lewis knows that the Giants will have to employ a committee approach to replace Barkley. That means Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Elijhaa Penny and perhaps veteran Rod Smith, currently on the practice squad, among running backs. The rest of the roster as well.

“It’s going to take all of us. We got Wayne (Gallman), myself, we all gotta step up. Obviously, you know, Saquon (Barkley) is one of the best running backs in this league, so nobody’s going to be able to do what he does, what he’s done. We gotta do what we can do, be ourselves, and do whatever the coaches ask us to do and work hard every day,” Lewis said. \

“I mean, he’s Saquon Barkley, so you lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss. But you know, as a team, everybody’s gotta step up. Receivers gotta step up, O-line’s gotta step up, running backs have gotta step up, quarterback’s gotta step up, defense has gotta step up, everybody has gotta step up. It’s not going to be one person who steps up to make up for what he’s done, it’s going to take all of us.”

Lewis, who turns 30 in a week, could become the team’s primary back.

“I’m not sure. I’m going to keep working like I always work, take the same approach in practice like I always do, prepare like I’m going to be in there every play, and just stay ready,” he said. “That’s how I’ve gone throughout my whole career, just always stay ready, prepare like I’m going to be the guy in there every play even (though) most of the time I’m not. So, I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and whatever the coaches want me to do, I’m going to do it.”

Quarterback Daniel Jones ended Sunday with 25 completions in 40 attempts for 241 yards.

“Definitely tough to see anyone go down, especially a guy that works as hard as Saquon does,” Jones said. “And, you know, we don’t know what it is yet, but certainly keeping our thoughts and prayers with him. He’s a guy that comes to work every day. I know he’ll attack any challenge, and we’re all here to support him. So, yeah, always tough to see a teammate go down.”

How will that change the Giants’ offense?

“I don’t think anyone knows exactly what the injury is or what that sets us up for. So dealing in hypotheticals right now isn’t the most productive thing,” Jones said. “But whatever it is, we’ll respond as a team and do the best we can going forward.”

Defensive captain Blake Martinez said watching Barkley go down was a “tough moment” for everyone.

“Any time a player goes down on the team - it’s one of the guys you worked with through training camp and you work through the first game and all those moments grinding together - so it’s definitely a tough moment,” Martinez said. “He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. So to have that moment happen, it was definitely tough.”

Cornerback James Bradberry summed up pretty much how everyone feels in the wake of Barkley’s injury.

“Of course, your heart stops for a minute, but we really don’t know the verdict of Saquon’s injury right now, so prayers up to him and we’re hoping for the best,” he said.