Giants running back Saquon Barkley full-go at practice
The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year was a full-go at practice Wednesday, increasing the likelihood he will play against the Arizona Cardinals (2-3-1) this weekend. It will be the first time the running back has played since sustaining a high sprain to his right ankle on Sept. 22 against Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Coach Pat Shurmur said the team would watch Barkley in practice the rest of the week before determining whether he will play.
Barkley was not in the locker room to comment. He usually talks to the media on Thursdays.
The Giants (2-4) also might get tight end Evan Engram back Sunday. He also practiced fully Wednesday and said he ran and cut on his injured knee without any problem.
The offense has struggled in recent losses to Minnesota and New England, averaging 212 yards. Barkley, Engram, top wide receiver Sterling Shepard and backup running back Wayne Gallman missed the game against the undefeated Patriots.
While they are only a game behind Dallas and Philadelphia (3-3) in the NFC East, quarterback Daniel Jones said the team needs to get back on track.
"I think we're always going to feel the urgency to fix things we haven't done as well," Jones said. "To improve, I think that should always be there. Starting today at practice, really starting Monday at practice, I think there's an urgency and a sense of making sure we prepare as well as we possibly can, so we can play as well as we possibly can."
The game will feature Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, against Cardinals rookie Kyler Murray, the top pick.
The Giants have scored 24 points in the past two games.
Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, adds a dimension to the offense with his ability to run and catch passes. He had 37 carries for 237 yards (a 6.4 yard average) before being hurt late in the first half against the Bucs. Gallman, Jon Hilliman and Eli Penny, who all ran in his absence, have 68 carries for 234 yards, or a 3.44 yard average.
Having Barkley back is akin to adding a home run hitter to the lineup.
"That's our boy," guard Will Hernandez said of Barkley after practice. "We're excited to have him back. We're going to keep working. We have been working and we are going to let him do his thing. Let him do his magic."
Engram is the same way. Before being hurt against Minnesota, he had team-highs of 33 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers still lead the team despite missing the Thursday night game.
"I was pretty down about missing last Thursday," Engram said. "I am definitely really hungry and going out there and getting out there is going to be fun. I'll be a kid in the candy shop again."
Shepard and Gallman were limited at practice Wednesday. They have concussions. It's the second of the year for Shepard.
NOTES: CB Sam Beal was designated for return. He has been on the injured reserve since the start of the season. The Giants have 21 days to decide whether to add him to the roster. ... CB Corey Ballentine, the primary kickoff returner, did not practice because of a concussion. The team said he has been having headaches since the Patriots' game.