Saquon Barkley: 'I want to be better' than Rams' Todd Gurley

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

There isn’t a lot for New York Giants fans to be excited about right now. The team is 1-7 at the midpoint for the second straight year, Eli Manning has played poorly, the offensive line isn’t protecting him, and the defense is in the bottom quarter of the league as well.

But running back Saquon Barkley has been a bright spot, flashing some of the talent that made him the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. Barkley, not surprisingly, wants to be better, and is looking across the country for one player to emulate.

Learning from a new teammate

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The Giants claimed offensive tackle Jamon Brown off waivers last week, when Brown was released by the Los Angeles Rams.

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley said on Wednesday that he wants to be better than Rams MVP candidate Todd Gurley someday. (AP)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley said on Wednesday that he wants to be better than Rams MVP candidate Todd Gurley someday. (AP)

It didn’t take long for Barkley to sidle up to his new teammate to question him about Gurley, the man Brown blocked for over the last few years.

I definitely can learn a lot from a guy who blocked for probably at the end of today, the MVP of the league, in my opinion,” Barkley told reporters on Wednesday. “I watch film of Todd Gurley; I love the way he plays. He’s an all-purpose back, a threat any time he touches the ball. He runs physical, running great in between the tackles.”

Gurley posting MVP-type numbers

Gurley, the 2015 Associated Press offensive rookie of the year and the reigning AP offensive player of the year, is an MVP candidate this season.

After nine weeks, he leads the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. He’s totaled 868 yards on 182 carries (4.8 yards per), with 12 touchdowns, plus 37 catches for 362 yards and four more scores for the 8-1 Rams.

All told, Gurley has 64 first downs, accounting for almost 30 percent of the Rams’ first downs.

A two-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro last year, Gurley signed a four-year, $60 million contract extension on the eve of training camp, a pact that includes $45 million guaranteed.

Barkley wants to be better than Gurley

Barkley is currently 11th in the league in rushing yards (519, on 111 carries), and third in yards from scrimmage (1,016, thanks to his 58 receptions). Despite the Giants’ struggles, he’s in the conversation for offensive rookie of the year.

But Barkley wants to be better, which is why he watches film of Gurley and has been picking Brown’s brain, seeing what he can emulate and learning what he can.

“That’s someone that I’d be wrong if I don’t go and pick his brain and go ask that guy what he sees that Todd did or ask him what makes Todd exceptional and the reason why he is player that he is today,” Barkley said of Brown. “That’s something that I want to learn from him because I want to compete.

“I want to be better than Todd one day. I know he’s got the same mindset. All the running backs got the same mindset in the league, and that’s just the way it operates in this league, just how it operates as competitors.”

Gurley likely isn’t going to hand his mantle to Barkley, but Barkley is trying to figure out how to take it from him.

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