New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley took the next step in his recovery from torn ACL as he participated in live drills during Thursday's joint practice with the New England Patriots. "I feel really good right now," said Barkley, per ESPN.
Barkley suffered a torn ACL on September 20 last year and this was the closest thing he has experienced to real football since the injury. "It feels good being with the team, feels good to get a couple of team reps," Barkley said.
"It's just fun to be able to play football again. Feel like a little kid and just taking it day by day."
Coach doesn't want to put Barkley in a dangerous situation
Barkley will have to face contact for the first time since suffering the injury before he gets inserted into a regular game.
"I think every player has to have physical contact and experience the hits they're going to take in a game, before it becomes live, full speed in the regular season," Giants head coach Joe Judge said. "The reality of the nature is, the speed of the game increases from preseason to regular season to postseason.
That's just what happens. For us to put a player on the field without preparing him either through practice or preseason games without contact, we're putting that player in danger and at a disservice. I know a lot of people want to put their head in a box and pretend it doesn't exist, doesn't happen.
"The reality is when you go out there in Denver, Washington, Atlanta, that's live bullets now. They're flying around. They're trying to hit our players as hard as they can, as we are to them, make good form tackles and end a play.
So, the best thing you can do for your players is prepare them for what they're going to see by putting them in controlled situations, experience the technique, let your body get used to the contact as close and collisions that are going to happen in a game, and then build on that as it goes to more 11-on-11 situations."
Barkley wore the red no-contact jersey so he would not take any hits. "I hate it. I hate it," Barkley said of putting on the red jersey while most of the rest of his teammates wore blue. "You've got to do what you've got to do.
I said something in the locker room [Thursday], 'I don't care if it's pink, orange, yellow, whatever color is on -- as long as I'm going to be able to get out there. I'm going to take some reps for my team and that's the only thing that matters to me.' "