New York Giants' Saquon Barkley to miss practice, sources say, but add to drills on return

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley is expected to participate more in drills during this week's joint practice with the New England Patriots as he continues to impress with his physical progression from a torn ACL in his right knee.

Barkley will not be at Wednesday's joint practice as he attends to a personal matter, sources told ESPN. He will rejoin the team Thursday, and the plan is to get him going potentially in live drills, perhaps with some slight limitations.

At this point, it's another positive step in his comeback. Barkley's time away from the team isn't expected to set him back, and there remains a possibility that he'll be ready to play in the Giants' Sept. 12 opener against the Denver Broncos.

"He keeps advancing in his rehab," coach Joe Judge said Monday. "His foot is tapping every day, wanting to do more and more, and physically he keeps progressing and showing us he can do more and more."

Barkley tore the ACL in a Week 2 game in Chicago last year. He also had the meniscus repaired, and there was also damage to the MCL, which healed on its own.

The Giants have been adamant about bringing Barkley back slowly this summer, taking what Judge called a "long-term perspective" with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The team says it wants to make sure Barkley is in the best possible situation to succeed not only this season, but in the future.

Barkley began the summer on the physically unable to perform list. He was activated just over two weeks ago.

His first week of practice consisted mostly of individual drills. Barkley spent a majority of those afternoons watching his teammates work. He did slightly more last week, with some one-on-ones during joint practices in Cleveland and a few passing game drills against his own defense.

This week, the expectation is he will do more.

The Giants have joint practices open to the public in Foxborough with the Patriots on Wednesday and Thursday. They return to East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Friday for what is likely to amount to a Giants-only walkthrough prior to their final preseason game Sunday against New England.

It's unlikely Barkley will play in the preseason contest.

Regardless, the plan remains for the Giants to use Barkley cautiously early this season, even if he's back by Week 1. Over the first few games, he will not see a workload close to what he saw prior to the injury, when he was playing on 90% of offensive snaps.

He could split time in the backfield early this season with offseason acquisition Devontae Booker, who has cemented himself as the Giants' No. 2 back this summer.

The Giants say they still have high expectations for Barkley, but they need to be patient.

"Well, you need to see him back on the field producing, which we expect that to be the case," co-owner John Mara said last week. "Our medical people feel very good about where he's at right now. I like what I've seen from him out on the field and hopefully that'll be an easy decision for us as well."