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The New York Giants got good news on Thursday when doctors did not recommend surgery for star running back Saquon Barkley, and now he might be back even sooner than expected.
After initially getting a four-to-eight week recovery estimate — with the latter being more likely — Barkley is telling people that he wants to beat that timetable, according to a report from NFL Network's Kimberly Jones.
Whether or not a rushed return is advisable, Barkley’s presence will be integral for any shot at the playoffs for the Giants after their 1-2 start. Wayne Gallman is a capable backup but not what a contender would really be hoping for.
Barkley showed last season that he’s one of the league’s most marketable stars with explosive talent. He led the league with 2,028 yards from scrimmage last season in one of the most impressive rookie seasons ever.
Is it worth the risk for Saquon Barkley to come back early?
The Giants want Barkley back on the field, but they also want him being productive. Players don’t always return from high-ankle sprains with the same explosiveness they had before, so rushing Barkley back could exacerbate that problem.
Worse yet, Barkley could be susceptible to further injury, which could keep him out far longer than the team ever expected. It’s not nice to think about missing your star through a Week 11 bye, but losing him for the season would be far worse.
The decision to rush back could backfire even more on Barkley, who has plenty of money on the line. Although he isn’t slated to hit free agency until 2023, playing on a bum ankle could seriously hamper his per carry numbers and harm him in future negotiations. Considering running backs often only get one big deal in their career, Barkley should be extra careful not to put himself in a dangerous situation that could take a mild ankle injury and turn it into something bigger.
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