Giants RB Saquon Barkley reacts after taking huge step toward return to game action

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Saquon Barkley will helmet half off his head in blue Giants uniform
Saquon Barkley will helmet half off his head in blue Giants uniform

Giants RB Saquon Barkley, who has been ramping up his activity as he continues to work his way back from knee surgery, was on the practice field on Thursday after being away from camp on Wednesday due to a personal matter.

And on Thursday, Barkley took the biggest step yet toward his return to game action, participating in drills, including 11-on-11s.

"It felt good," Barkley told reporters after practice. "Obviously, I wasn’t at practice yesterday, but it feels good being with the team, feels good to get a couple of team reps. It’s just fun to be able to play football again, feel like a little kid and just taking it day by day."

As far as whether he felt 100 percent, Barkley -- whose status for Week 1 against the Denver Broncos is still up in the air - said yes, with a caveat.

"Within the realm of what I was doing, I was 100 percent," he said. "I didn’t get to really open up, they kind of blew the whistle. I personally think maybe it would have been a different outcome there. I’m going 100 percent with what I’m able to do, but continue as we get more reps and I get more team reps and more work in, more of those natural reps are going to come in."

The Giants wrap up their preseason schedule on Saturday against the New England Patriots, and it is not expected that Barkley will play.

The above should come as no surprise given the deliberate way the Giants have worked Barkley back, and the absence of most of the other starting players -- including Daniel Jones -- from the Giants' first two preseason games.

Whenever Barkley is back on the field during game action, he'll be relied on to be a catalyst for a Giants offense that should have plenty of weapons.

But how long will it take for Barkley to feel like himself again as a ball-carrier?

"All of that is going to come back just naturally, just with the game and playing football," Barkley said. "Obviously, I am going to be a little behind than where I was when I last left off. That just naturally happens when you don’t play football for 11 months, 12 months, (whatever) it is.

"My eyes are going to be alright because I’ve been watching a lot of film and watching a lot of practice. It’s different than watching and actually going out there and assimilating with the speed. It’s just trusting my steps, trusting my footwork, trusting the scheme and the line blocking, and all that stuff will come back together."