EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A major knee injury has ended Saquon Barkley’s season.
His career still has a long way to go, New York Giants coach Joe Judge predicted Monday a little more than 24 hours after his star running back tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on a seemingly harmless tackle in a loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Giants (0-2) said earlier in the day an MRI in a New York City hospital confirmed Barkley had torn his ACL, meaning he would not play again in 2020.
Judge said backups Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman would replace the 2018 NFL offensive rookie of the year. The rookie coach also issued a warning to the league.
“I won’t fall asleep on 26,” Judge said. “It’s going to be a hell of a story.”
Barkley will have to wait for the swelling in his knee to subside before having surgery, which the team said would be in the near future.
Barkley was hurt near the Chicago sideline after trying to fend off Bears safety Eddie Jackson on a 6-yard carry early in the second quarter. The No. 2 overall draft choice in 2018 dragged his right leg behind him as he was helped back across the field to the Giants sideline.
After a short conversation with trainers, he left the field on a cart. The 23-year-old also seemed to be shaken up after he was tackled at the end of an 18-yard run late in the opening quarter, but he quickly re-entered the game.
“Saquon is a tremendous player and we have even more respect for him as a person,” Judge said. “I personally hated (this) for as hard as he has worked and as much of an impact he has on this team.”
Barkley had 19 carries for 34 yards this season, including four for 28 yards on Sunday. He was limited to 6 yards on 15 carries against the Steelers in the season opener, when he had no blocking support. The former Penn State star also was criticized by former Giants running back Tiki Barber for his pass-blocking skills.
Judge said the Giants focus this week is getting ready to play the San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Judge said a lot of NFL players have had ACL injuries and come back the next year to play well, with Adrian Peterson, now of the Lions, a prime example.
“This is a young guy who is very physically gifted,” Judge said. “There are good doctors out there and he is going to get the very best medical treatment.”
Barkley had his best season as a rookie. He carried 261 times for 1,307 yards and caught 91 passes for another 721. He scored 15 touchdowns, including 11 on the ground.
An ankle injury in the third game of last season caused him to miss three games. He finished with 1,003 yards rushing and 52 catches. His touchdown production went from 15 to eight, with six on the ground.
For his career, he has gained 2,344 yards rushing and caught 149 passes. He has rushed for 17 touchdowns and caught six TDs behind a mediocre offensive line. He has not had a turnover in 646 plays.
Safety Jabrill Peppers said Barkley is one of the hardest workers on the team.
“I know from working out with him over the summer he was looking forward to this season after the ankle injuries last season,” Peppers said. “I’m praying for him. He is a guy who is going to bounce back better than ever. It’s a minor setback for a major comeback.”
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