It seems clear that something is not quite right with Saquon Barkley, who appears to be playing hurt. But on the day after his worst game in the NFL, Barkley was feeling "much better," according to Giants coach Pat Shurmur.
And the Giants have no plans at all to shut him down.
"Absolutely not," Shurmur said.
That seemed like a fair question after Barkley rushed for one yard on 13 carries in the Giants' 34-27 loss to the Jets on Sunday afternoon. It was an astonishingly bad performance, especially for a back of his caliber. And he took a beating from the Jets' defense just to get that one yard. According to ESPN, Barkley was hit before he got to the line of scrimmage on 11 of his 13 runs.
So it was no wonder he was seen walking gingerly to the X-Ray room in the moments after the game. Shurmur, after the game, said Barkley "got banged up a little bit today." Asked if he was injured after the game, a terse Barkley responded "Next question."
Clearly, though, the 22-year-old hasn't been himself since missing a month with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3. Since his return, he's rushed for only 145 yards on 64 carries in four games - just 2.3 yards per carry. And in the last two weeks, against the Cowboys and the Jets, he's been terrible -- 27 rushes, 29 yards.
He's been better as a receiver with 22 catches for 184 yards in those four games, including one screen pass that he took for 65 yards. But more was still expected, especially after Barkley ran for 227 yards in the first two games of the season.
If it's the injury, though, he won't admit it. He deflected all questions on that subject after the game, so it's impossible to know if he came back too soon from an ankle sprain that was initially expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks, or if he suffered some other injury along the way.
The good news, though, is that it must not be serious, otherwise the Giants surely wouldn't risk playing him down the stretch of a lost season.
Also, he appeared to be doing better on Monday morning -- at least according to his coach.
"He was in today. He's feeling much better," Shurmur said. "He's fine."