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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is officially listed as doubtful until Thursday night against the Washington Football Team as he tries to play for the second time in five days while returning from a major knee injury.
The expectation, which precludes a setback, remains that Barkley will play, a source told ESPN. Barkley and coach Joe Judge have said over the course of the week that they think he will be ready.
Close end Evan Engram (calf) will not be available for the Giants (0-1) against Washington. Starting left guard Shane Lemieux (knee) and outside linebacker Cam Brown (hoarding) have also been ruled out.
Barkley admitted on Tuesday that it was not ideal to play two games four days apart while recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee. He tore the knee joint in week 2 last season, underwent surgery in October and started the summer on the physically unable to perform list. He did not face his first contact until just a week ago and felt natural soreness after being tackled for the first time in almost a year on Sunday.
Asked when he would know if his body would be ready for the challenge of playing at such short rest, he admitted the unknown.
“Thursday. When I’m out there,” Barkley said.
Barkley had 10 carries on 26 yards and a catch for 1 yard in his return during a 27-13 loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday. He played 28 snaps – 48% of the Giants’ offensive play – and was mostly a nonfactor with no ability to get into the open.
Barkley is expected to have a similar workload on Thursday night, perhaps handling just over 50% of the offensive snaps while sharing time with Devontae Booker. A range of 12-17 touches is likely, though there is still a large element of the unknown.
Neither Barkley nor the referee was aware of any players tearing their knees and facing a similar challenge in two matches so close to each other immediately after their return.
“Yeah, that’s a good question. I do not think the schedule is ideal for coming back from a major knee injury to have two back-to-back fights, but that’s it,” Barkley said. “That is what is in front of me, and that is the challenge I have to face.
“To the question of my workload and how much I can handle, it’s easier for me to stay up here and say, ‘I do not know, just listen to the coaches.’ When you’re in the game and your adrenaline goes and you start to get a rhythm and you start to feel yourself again, it can go from fewer reps or more reps. I do not know, to be honest. I am not in it I do not make that decision. I just play my part by showing up on Thursday and the plays I get try to help my team the best I can. “