Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, the Giants' last two first-round picks, will be on the field together for the first time in a regular season game on Sunday. The transition has been made from veteran Eli Manning to usher in this new era of Giants football.
"I guess you can say the future, but like I said, just more excited for him," Barkley told reporters on Thursday.
The dynamic running back has already proven his worth to the team and the rest of the league, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year last season while catapulting his name into the discussion of best running back in the NFL. It's only been one year, but you can say Barkley has already paid his dues and earned the respect of his teammates. There's a "C" on his chest for a reason.
Though the spotlight is normally on Barkley on gameday to see what miraculous play he'll break off this week, it will certainly change when Jones steps on the Raymond James Stadium turf in his first career start. Stepping into Manning's shoes -- ones filled with Super Bowl titles and franchise records -- won't be easy, but a step in the right direction with a solid performance against the Bucs will be Jones' first goal as a starter.
Barkley knows all too well what that first game as a starter is like. The spotlight was definitely there when he faced the Jaguars in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium last season, and he answered the bell with 106 yards on 18 carries, including his first touchdown run -- a 68-yard flashy finish.
So what kind of advice does Barkley have for his new quarterback?
"Be you," Barkley said. "You don't gotta be anybody else besides himself. You're here for a reason, you got here for a reason. You don't got to impress anybody else. Only people you got to impress is the people in this locker room and the people in this facility. And he's already did that because one, they're the team that drafted him and two, he already got the respect from us on his team just by the way he carries himself as a person and his work ethic. You can see even when he wasn't the starting quarterback the last two weeks, just how he operates."
If all goes well, Jones should be able to lean on Barkley, who is averaging 7.8 yards per carry so far this season. However, the Bucs defense -- led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles -- is a blitz-heavy team that has a pretty good front four that can stop the run.
"They're definitely a different team than they were last year when we played them," he said. "They blitz a lot, so you gotta be on your toes and understand the scheme, understand their system and what they're trying to do."
That shouldn't stop head coach Pat Shurmur's usage of Barkley, but it will certainly keep Jones on his toes when he drops back in the pocket. He is more mobile than Manning, and that ability should be tested throughout the contest.
But everything, from his decision making to his touch on passes, will be critiqued and analyzed by everyone watching. Jones was impressive in the preseason, but in a regular-season situation, the atmosphere and speed running with the 1's at all times is entirely different.
Barkley has faith that great play from August will translate down in Tampa this week, though. If that's the case, the future will look pretty bright.
"Really excited for him and just hope we go out there and [he's] himself and let the plays come," Barkley said.