Sports

How long is Saquon Barkley out? Injury timeline, return date, latest updates on Giants RB

The Giants had plenty of problems on their hands before star running back Saquon Barkley hurt his knee on the first play of the second quarter in their Week 2 loss to the Bears.

With a sputtering offense, New York was down two scores and in danger of falling into the dreaded 0-2 hole to start the 2020 season. New coach Joe Judge’s team was looking for any sign of positivity to spark a comeback both on the scoreboard in Chicago and in the NFL standings. It got the opposite.

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Barkley took a second-down carry toward the right sideline and was met by Bears safety Eddie Jackson, resulting in what appeared to be a routine tackle. But Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, could not get up.

The 23-year-old running back had to be helped off the field with his right knee clearly causing him an enormous amount of pain. Soon after, he was carted to the locker room with his facial expressions confirming emotional frustration to match his physical pain. He knew the injury was bad.

The next day, an MRI confirmed what Barkley and the Giants had feared. The running back had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and would undergo surgery to repair the ligament.

Below is more about Barkley’s injury and his expected recovery timeline.

How long will Saquon Barkley be out?

The Giants in their announcement of Barkley’s ACL tear did not note his recovery timeline, just that he would undergo surgery to repair the injury “in the near future.” Multiple reports, however, noted that the running back is out for the rest of the 2020 season.

Barkley’s injury obviously is a big blow for New York, which will turn to some combination of Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman at running back barring a roster move. One possibility is the addition of former Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who remains a free agent and recently said he has been waiting for the right opportunity to sign with a new team.

Regardless, Barkley will miss a minimum of 14 games, the rest of the Giants’ schedule in 2020.

As for Barkley’s recovery timeline, he can look to the success story of then-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012 as an example of the best-case scenario. Peterson made that easy for Barkley on Sunday when the veteran tweeted his support of the younger back.

Peterson suffered at torn ACL and MCL in December 2011, toward the end of his fifth NFL season and when he was 26. All Peterson did the following season was rush for a career-high 2,097 yards, just a few shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season NFL record, and the league MVP award.

Not only is Barkley younger than Peterson was when the latter suffered his knee injury, but the Giants’ running back’s torn ACL came in Week 3 rather than Week 16.

Barring unforeseen setbacks, Barkley will have plenty of time to get his knee back to full strength ahead of the 2021 season, which will be his fourth in the NFL.

Even with the new context of Barkley’s season-ending injury, there’s little reason to believe the Giants won’t pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract that would tie him to the organization though at least the 2022 season.

And while it’s a notable setback, this injury likely does not jeopardize Barkley’s chances of eventually cashing in with a second contract in New York should he choose to stick around. Though that negotiation might be delayed by a year or so.

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