Barkley underwent an MRI at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan the day after he was injured during a 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. He will undergo surgery in the “near future” according to the team.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard is dealing with turf toe that forced him from the second half of the game. He will likely miss time, a source told ESPN.
Barkley was hurt as he ran toward the sideline Sunday in Chicago and was tackled by Bears safety Eddie Jackson. Barkley grabbed at the knee as he was headed to the ground.
Barkley was later carted to the locker room and slammed his fist in disgust. He had four rushes for 28 yards before exiting. His season ends with 19 rushes for 34 yards and no touchdowns.
It’s now onto next season for Barkley, who becomes eligible for a contract extension at the end of this year. This naturally becomes a roadblock. He will face an extensive rehab with the goal of being back by the start of next season.
Barkley scrubbed his Instagram account Sunday night after the injury and left one post — a picture commemorating his sports idol, Kobe Bryant. The caption ends with the hashtags #mambamentality and #forever. Barkley later retweeted a tweet from Complex Sports noting he deleted all of his posts on IG except for the picture of Kobe and #MambaMentality.
One of the biggest concerns teams have with running backs who tear their ACL is the vulnerability of their other knee once they return. Best-case scenario is that Barkley is like Adrian Peterson. The current Detroit Lions running back tore his ACL in 2011 at 26 years old. He returned for the start of the following season and had the most productive year of his legendary career with 2,097 yards rushing for the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson tweeted encouragement to Barkley on Sunday:
.@saquon a born winner!! The comeback is going to be scary 💯
— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) September 20, 2020
Giants coach Joe Judge envisions something similar from Barkley.
“Don’t fall asleep on 26,” Judge said. “It’s going to be a hell of a story either way.”
Barkley, 23, has rushed for 2,344 yards on 497 carries his first three professional season after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
After a huge rookie season in which Barkley accumulated more than 2,000 total yards from scrimmage, he was hampered by a high ankle sprain last year. He missed three games and was not at 100% in several others.
Barkley was healthy throughout the summer and confident for a big year in offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s offense after seeing the success Ezekiel Elliott had with him in Dallas. The Giants built their offense around Barkley, the talented back whom general manager Dave Gettleman considered a transcendent talent and future “gold jacket” player when he was drafted.
Barkley seemed destined to have a massive year as the centerpiece of the Giants’ plans, even if their Monday night opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers was a disaster. He had 6 yards on 15 carries and was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on 11 of those touches.
Now, the Giants will have to recalibrate their offense without their top playmaker and hope he returns to his previous form by the start of next season.
“I mean, he’s Saquon Barkley. You lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss,” said Lewis, who took Barkley’s spot in the lineup Sunday and rushed for a touchdown. “As a team, everybody has to step up. Receivers got to step up. O-line has to step up. The running backs have to step up. The quarterback has to step up. Defense has to step up. It’s not going to be one person step up to make up for what he’s done. It’s going to take all of us.”