New York Giants head coach Joe Judge continued on Wednesday to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to whether or not star running back Saquon Barkley will play Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Judge said he wanted to see how Barkley handled both Wednesday’s padded practice and three straight days of practice in general before deciding on whether or not Barkley would play for the first time since his major knee injury in Week 2 of last season.
“A large degree of what I want to see is kind of how he responds to some contact,” Judge said. “I want to see how he puts together three straight days of work as well. There’s a big part in just watching our players bodies respond. He’s no different than a lot of other guys we have right now coming off of injury that we’re going to have to see if these next three days, in terms of what they can handle by load and how we think their bodies are going to respond going into Sunday.
“We got to make the best decision for everybody’s health going into the game. Saquon’s no different than that, so we’re taking that lens of player safety as we go ahead and look at all these guys for the opener.”
Giants safety Jabrill Peppers said that it is apparent that Barkley is “not 100 percent,” but added that he and other defenders will do what they can to help prepare him.
“It’s up to us to make sure that when he’s ready to go back out there, he’s ready to go back out there,” Peppers said. “We’ve got to bang him up a little bit, go after the ball just to get some contact on his body.”
Denver coach Vic Fangio isn’t falling for the Giants’ refusal to admit that Barkley is playing on Sunday.
“He’s obviously eligible to play. He’s on the roster. We’re under the assumption that he will play and until we know otherwise, that’s the assumption we’ll take,” Fangio said on Wednesday. “He’s a hell of a player obviously and I’m sure they’ll play him if he’s ready to go.”
The return of Von Miller
The Broncos have their own star player who is returning to action on Sunday. Edge defender Von Miller will be in action after missing all of the 2020 season with an ankle injury.
Judge called Miller a “unicorn” among edge defenders.
“Seeing this guy back in the game, that’s good for football. Now, he’s a tough competitor and it’s a great challenge, but to see him come off the edge, whether he’s trying to dip and get the edge on you with that great get-off and speed or it’s that spin-move coming back inside because you overplay the outside because you’re worried about him beating you outside and you give up the inside. This guy is a different level of player,” Judge said. “I said this earlier a few minutes ago, but when we talk to our scouts going into the draft and they ask, ‘what are you guys looking for in certain roles?’ You almost want to say like, ‘you know the Von Millers of the world? Don’t bother looking for that guy because that guy doesn’t exist many places. Like if he shows up, we’ll find him, don’t worry about it.’
“So, this guy is just a rare player. He’s kind of a unicorn of an edge rusher to be as just explosive and athletic and strong for his size, and instinctive and productive. Look, I’ve been on the other side from this guy several times and I’m telling you, he can ruin your day in a heartbeat if you try and do something other than your job.”
The Giants’ much-maligned offensive tackles — Andrew Thomas, Nate Solder, Matt Peart — will have their hands full against Miller and Bradley Chubb.
“I think the point of emphasis for anyone going against Von Miller, (outside linebacker Bradley) Chubb or any of their very talented rushers is just do your job, play your technique and trust what you’ve been taught to do. That’s it,” Judge said. “They don’t have to do anything outside what they’re taught to do. They don’t have to do anything superhuman. Look, these are very, very talented players. These are two of the best edge rushers in the game.”
Hey, look, it’s Pat Shurmur!
The Giants head coach in 2018 and 2019, and the man Judge replaced, is now in his second season as Broncos’ offensive coordinator. As it turns out, Judge and Shurmur have some history.
“I think Pat’s a fine man. We’ve shared a beer together. We’ve gone to Mass together. We’ve gotten ashes on Ash Wednesday together,” Judge said. “This is a guy that I’ve always taken time to sit down and talk with. I think he’s one of the great offensive minds in all of football.”
Fangio praised Shurmur’s work in Denver.
“Pat’s done a good job here with us. He came in last year under tough circumstances once the pandemic hit and it made it hard to install the offense with no offseason, limited meetings, limited training camp, but I thought we improved as the season went on last year and I like where we’re at offensively now,” Fangio said. ‘Pat’s brought a good system. He’s got a good offensive staff with him and we’re in much better shape right now than we were last year.”
Adoree’ Jackson’s status uncertain
Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has not practiced since sustaining an ankle injury during joint practices with the New England Patriots. He was listed as “limited” on the Wednesday injury report. Jackson, though, has done little more than run a bit under the watchful eyes of a trainer.
“I wake up in the morning, so I’m good, man. I can’t complain,” Jackson said Wednesday when asked how he was doing.
That, though, is not encouraging when it comes to his playing status for Sunday.
“Just show up to work and do everything they ask and whatever they see, if that’s what they like. That’s all I can do. Whatever they ask for me to do, and if it’s to their liking, it’s going to go their way. But other than that, that’s all I can do, whatever they ask me to do,” Jackson said.
“I’ve just got to trust. Being an athlete and knowing what you want to do as a competitor, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to trust the ones that’s around you. They know best and know what you need and what’s going to help you and progress you and not try to hinder you.”