Barkley, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, stretched with his teammates Thursday and did some light jogging on the side with a trainer. It was the most he has done since suffering the injury. He did not participate in joint practices with the Detroit Lions this week.
"Like I told him, you take your time. There is nothing you need to prove to any of us. There is nothing you need to prove to anyone. Not yourself. You know what you're capable of. I know what you're capable of. We know what you're capable of. It's about getting healthy."Odell Beckham Jr., on Saquon Barkley
The injury is considered minor. The Giants have called it a "tweak." Barkley said that if there were a playoff game today, you would see him on the field.
"To be completely honest, as a competitor I'd find a way," he said. "I want to play [Friday in a preseason game against Detroit]. I don't know what is in the game plan, to be completely honest. I just know I'm day-to-day and taking it step-by-step."
Giants coach Pat Shurmur wouldn't officially rule Barkley out of Friday's game, but he's unlikely to play. Shurmur said everyone can guess and surmise, but a player who does not practice because of an injury isn't typically going to play in a preseason contest. The Giants had a light workout with the Lions on Thursday in the rain.
It's unclear when exactly Barkley will be back at practice. The next practice is Sunday.
Barkley is, however, expected to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"He's going to be good come Sept. 9 and that is all that really matters," Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said.
Beckham knows a thing or two about hamstring injuries as a rookie. He missed most of training camp, all of the preseason and the first four games of the regular season his rookie year because of a hamstring tear. He was later named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year after finishing with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Barkley's injury is not believed to be as serious. Beckham had a tear. Barkley has a strain.
Still, Beckham understands.
"Feel for him? Yeah, I don't know how you pull your hamstring as a rookie. It's just unreal," Beckham said jokingly. "Like I told him, you take your time. There is nothing you need to prove to any of us. There is nothing you need to prove to anyone. Not yourself. You know what you're capable of. I know what you're capable of. We know what you're capable of. It's about getting healthy."
Veteran running back Jonathan Stewart said earlier in the week that it takes everyone a different amount of time to adjust to the NFL game. Barkley already showed on his first carry that he might not need as much time as most. He went for 39 yards last week on the first play against the Cleveland Browns.
The Giants have three preseason games remaining.
Barkley injured his hamstring while catching a deep pass down the sideline at Monday's practice. He limped to a stop and jogged slowly to the other side of the field, where he laid down and was treated by trainers.
The rookie gingerly walked off the field after practice. He wasn't happy about what unfolded, but knew it wasn't serious.
"I wasn't scared because I knew it wasn't nothing crazy," he said. "I was just frustrated because a lot of those things are preventative and it's about taking care of your body and treating your body, make sure you're hydrated and stuff. I thought I was doing all those things right. It kind of showed me that even though when you think you're doing enough you have to find a way to do more."
What exactly could he have done differently?
"Everything. When something like that happens, I think you just have so much time to reflect. So you just kind of reflect on things you could have done differently," he said. "Probably could've done everything different. A little more of this, little more of that."
In the meantime, he's doing everything possible to get back on the field. He caught passes from the JUGS machine on Wednesday, worked out with trainers and has been at practice taking mental reps every day since the injury.
"My hamstring might be hurt but that is not going to stop my hands or stop arms, or even really you can do stuff with your hamstrings whether it is in the weight room ... extra stuff with therapy or treatment, catching balls, being locked into plays," he said. "Even though I'm not able to practice, I'm not going to let this be a negative setback. I'm going to let it be a positive, continue to grow from it and become a better player."
Barkley said he has never had a hamstring injury. The last time he missed a game was when he suffered an ankle injury as a freshman at Penn State.