Bill Belichick raves about Giants RB Saquon Barkley: 'He can do it all'

Nick Goss
NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO, Mass. -- New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley took the NFL by storm as a rookie last season.

The Penn State product ran for 1,307 yards with 11 touchdowns, in addition to tallying 91 receptions for 721 yards and four receiving touchdowns en route to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

Barkley suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 and hasn't played since. He's reportedly unlikely to suit up for Thursday night's matchup against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, but Bill Belichick is still preparing for the possibility that Barkley does return.

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"We'll be ready for everybody until they're out," the Patriots head coach said at his Tuesday press conference. "We'll expect them all to play, we'll prepare for all of them to play. They have a lot of good players. They have good depth and they've gotten good play from a lot of different players."

Belichick had no shortage of praise for Barkley on Monday during a conference call with Giants media.

"Outstanding player," Belichick said. "We haven't faced him and kind of hope we don't. But we need to be ready for him. I'm sure he's a very competitive guy, I'm sure he's doing all he can to be ready to go; I know it was close last week, so we'll probably get him."

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Belichick has been particularly impressed with Barkley's all-around skill set, and the many ways the Giants star impacts the game.

"He can do it all -- great power, speed, they use him well in the passing game," Belichick said. "He's very hard to tackle in the open field. He's hard to tackle anywhere. He's got good vision, good quickness. He can play in space, he's elusive, he's got power. Really, with 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year, that pretty much says it all right there. Plus, we know he can return kickoffs, and everything else."

If Barkley does come back Thursday night, he'll go up against one of the league's best run defenses.

New England's defense has allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game and features a group of linebackers who do a tremendous job chasing down elusive running backs. The Patriots held New York Jets star Le'Veon Bell, one of the league's top dual-threat running backs, to just 63 total yards (including 1.9 yards per rush) and zero touchdowns in a 30-14 victory in Week 3. Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner and Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson also struggled against this Patriots run defense.

The smart move for the Giants is giving Barkley another week to recover from his injury, but if he does play, the Patriots will be ready. Belichick is well-aware of the special talents that Barkley brings to the field.

"He's had more production than any player in the history of the game in the time that he's played," Belichick said Tuesday. "So, 91 catches or whatever it was last year. Receiver, runner, power, speed, athleticism. He's hard to tackle. He can do it all."

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Bill Belichick raves about Giants RB Saquon Barkley: 'He can do it all' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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