Saquon Barkley getting ‘one percent better’ every day after ACL surgery

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If Saquon Barkley accomplishes his next goal, he will be better than 100 percent when he returns to the Giants.

Barkley is trying to get “one percent better” every day and “take the little wins” over the course of his rehab from the season-ending torn ACL, strained MCL and torn meniscus in his right knee he suffered Sept. 20. Will he be the same dynamic player whenever he returns — certainly more than 100 days from now?

“No doubt in my mind,” Barkley said Thursday.

Barkley delayed surgery until Oct. 30 so that his MCL could heal on its own. Surgeons saved his meniscus, “which is a really good thing, to be honest,” Barkley said.

“The likelihood of me coming back to 100 percent, what they are saying is it’s kind of all in how you attack it,” Barkley said. “You have to be smart with the first 6-7 weeks because of the meniscus repair, which I’m going to continue to be smart with. Sometimes when you do an ACL reconstruction, your ACL becomes 10 times stronger.”

Barkley admitted he would “love to have this over yesterday” but realizes it’s a long road ahead. It is made easier by seeing his teammates succeed in his absence.

“So far, I’m doing pretty well, but I imagine there will be some more dark places coming up,” Barkley said. “The darkest time for me was right when it happened. Even though it wasn’t diagnosed what it was, I kind of had a feeling what happened and that kind of brings you to tears. I know how hard I worked and what I wanted to help this team do this year and I knew that was all taken away at that moment. You have to suck it up. You can’t cry about it for too long.”

Here are some of Barkley’s other thoughts from his first interview with beat reporters since the injury:

On if the cell phone video of him out with teammates and not wearing a mask suggests he doesn’t take COVID-19 seriously: “Great question. I do take the virus seriously. We let our guard down, to be completely honest. We were trying to do it the right way. And that little moment that was captured looking negatively. I was in the forefront of trying to do things, whether it was working with Campbell’s and food banks to give food during the coronavirus or videos to help raise awareness and money for it. I truly want to apologize for that. As a leader of this team and being one of the faces of this franchise, I have to be better for us.”

On the impact of the injury on his contract extension negotiations this offseason and if he will play next season without a new deal: “I’m not really focused on money or anything right now.”

On hearing from others who have had ACL surgery: “Someone who is really important to me was A.P. [Adrian Peterson]. Obviously when you hear this injury, the first person that comes to mind is the season that A.P. had [winning NFL MVP after ACL surgery]. He put me in contact with his trainer and I was able to ask him a lot of questions. The day before surgery I got to chat with A.P. for a very long time and I can see myself continuing to chat with him throughout rehab.”

On the success of the Giants rushing attack right now, led by the offensive line and Wayne Gallman: “So proud of Wayne Train. All those guys are playing amazing. I remember after the Steelers game when the run game wasn’t so pretty talking to the offensive line and saying, ‘We know we have here and we’re going to get this thing figured out.’ I wish I was able to be part of it. I’m still part of it in a way, to be completely honest. That’s my mindset.”

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