New York Giants' Saquon Barkley says he won't make excuses amid high expectations

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley came into this season with a mindset not to use last year's knee injury as an excuse. Not under any circumstance.

Barkley, however, hasn't exactly lived up to his own standards after coming back from a torn ACL in his right knee. He has just 134 yards rushing on 39 carries through three games this year.

"I don't want to make any excuses. I'm not going to do that throughout this whole season," said Barkley, who suffered the injury in Week 2 of last season. "I'm never going to make any excuses. The expectation that people have for me, it's not even close to the expectation I have for myself -- and it never will be as long as I play football or whatever I do after football. That is just my mindset."

Criticisms about Barkley have started to bubble to the surface with the Giants getting off to an 0-3 start. It's a far cry from where he was just several years ago, when he burst onto the scene with 2,028 total yards as a rookie after being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick.

Injuries, however, have derailed his past two seasons. First a high ankle sprain marred the 2019 campaign and then the serious knee injury last year.

It has taken some of the luster off the running back who general manager Dave Gettleman once claimed was "touched by the hand of God."

Barkley has remained optimistic despite the slow start. He knew this was going to be a process and it wasn't necessarily realistic to come back at his 2018 form.

"I hold myself to a high standard. I know this team holds me to a high standard. I know a lot of people hold me to a high standard," Barkley said. "Like I always say, I set my own expectations. Right now I just have to keep working, keep growing, keep improving.

"I know what I'm coming off of. My mom and dad try to make me understand I'm coming off a knee injury. Try to teach me patience in there. I just have to keep being patient with it. I have to keep getting better and keep trusting it, trusting the process and keep working."

His workload has increased each week, going from 28 snaps in the opener, 53 in Week 2 and then 54 in last Sunday's game.

"To me, he's just done a remarkably good job coming back and he's getting better and better the more opportunities he gets," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said.

Barkley views it similarly.

"My touches have been going up. My workload has been going up. Every week I'm getting better," he said. "It's kind of the process coming off a major knee injury. I can see myself from Week 3 to Week 1, how much better a player I am already. And I've got to keep trusting the process."