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Saquon Barkley vague about when he will return to the Giants

Star running back says he will be back “whenever my body tells me I’m ready”

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of interested observers at the mandatory mini-camp practices for the New York Giants.

There are a couple dozen writers and photographers patrolling the patio of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center practice fields hoping to learn something, anything that will help us know what the Giants might look like in 2021. GM Dave Gettleman, oversized sun hat and all, has been out on the field watching. So, too, has co-owner John Mara — wearing a much less ostentatious Giants camp.

An extremely interested observer, though, and one who holds a huge part of the team’s 2021 fortunes in his hands, has been tucked away out of sight, sneaking peeks as the team he hopes to be a big part of goes through early preparations for the 2021 season.

That observer, of course is Saquon Barkley.

“I’ve been peeking out the windows,” Barkley said via Zoom on Wednesday.

Barkley does most of his rehab from a torn ACL, including some on-field work, in the morning before the rest of the team takes the field. He then sticks around the facility, does more work to rehab his surgically-repaired knee, and sneaks peeks at what is happening out on the practice field where he longs to be.

Barkley said Tuesday he is “just missing being out there.”

“To be able to watch and see them out there and not being able to participate with them right now, those are the toughest things,” Barkley said.

“At the end of the day, like I say, you have your ups and downs but that’s the biggest thing I miss the most just being able to go out there and be a kid again and play football and play a sport that I love and be surrounded with my teammates and just go out there and train football.”

When will he be ready to play?

Barkley was coy in his answers to repeated questions about when he will be ready to get on the field.

How is the rehab going?

“I come in every single day just trying to work as hard as I can. Being patient, listening to the team, listening to the trainers and listening to the doctors. I’m out there, there’s drills that you go through and you’re just trying to see where you’re at and there’s some things that I do that I know that my rehab is going really well. There’s some things that happen that you know you’ve got to do a little more work and that’s part of the rehab process. You have your ups and your downs physically and mentally.”

What is the timetable?

“I’m going to take it one day at a time, come in with my head down and ready to work. I’m fortunate enough that I don’t think that I have anyone around me — not going to think I know from top to bottom, there’s nothing that’s going to be forced for me to come back. It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready and it will show when I’m ready to go, that’s when I’ll be able to go out there and be hopefully as good as I was before or even better.”

Will he be “full go” when the season starts?

“It’s tough because it’s getting closer and closer. But at the end of the day, you’ve just got to continue to stay patient. This is helping teach me patience. When you’re a dad and you have a little three-year-old girl running around the house, that teaches you patience, too.

“But also, when you have a sport that you love that’s taken away from you, you want to get back there as fast as you can obviously, but you have to be smart. At the end of the day I want to do the best for my team, not just for a short span but for a long time.

“Like I said I have no expectation, no set day when I’m going to be full go. I’m going to come into work every single day because that’s all I know. I got to this point where I’m at in my life, this is all about work, so it’s not going to stop, it’s not going to change, and if anything, it’s going to make me work harder.”

Is he cutting and jumping yet?

“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking it one day at a time. Listening to the trainers. From [Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer] Ronnie [Barns] to [Director of Rehabilitation/Physical Therapist] Leigh [Weiss] and all the way down and being in conversation with the Dr. ElAttrache and Dr. Rodeo and just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

Oh, yes, the contract

Barkley is entering the final season of his rookie contract. In recent years, top-tier running backs have gotten new deals after their third seasons. Will Barkley be next? Does he care?

“Hearing the owner come out and say, basically speaking on longevity and seeing me here in the future, that means a lot. This is the place that drafted me. It’s special place to me. And it’s an honor and privilege to be able to put on the blue and white and come out as a Giant,” Barkley said.

“But when it comes to the contract situation, that’s something that’s not even crossing my mind. I have an amazing agent; those are things that I have conversations with her about, but for me right now, only thing I’m focusing on is coming here and working my butt off to get ready as soon as I can, so when I’m out there, I’m not just 100 percent, I am 110 percent and I can perform to the best of my ability for my team.”