The New York Giants are going to be without starting safety and captain Logan Ryan on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after positive COVID-19 tests while star running back Saquon Barkley has a chance to return from an ankle injury.
Barkley is listed as questionable after coach Joe Judge said he had a good week of practice. Barkley took some first-team reps and seems likely to play for the first time since Oct. 10.
"Trending the right way and really progressing for us," Judge said. "The next 48 hours will be big in terms of seeing how his body responds and what we think it will look like for Monday night."
The same holds true for starting left tackle Andrew Thomas. He practiced this week and is likely to be activated off injured reserve, barring a setback. Thomas does not have an injury designation because he is still on IR.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (quad), outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter (illness/ankle), special-teams ace Nate Ebner (ankle) and Ryan (COVID-19 protocols) were listed as out.
Getting Barkley and Thomas back would allow the Giants (3-6) to be the healthiest they have been offensively since Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints. They had 485 yards of total offense in that contest, their highest output this season.
Thomas has missed the past three games after spraining his right ankle in addition to an injured left foot. He returned to practice this week following the Giants' bye and expects to play.
"Nothing right now in my mind [that will keep me from playing]," Thomas said Saturday.
Barkley said Friday following practice that he felt "pretty good" after being sidelined longer than expected by the ankle injury. His return was perhaps pushed back by a false positive COVID-19 test the week before the team's bye. But Barkley returned to practice Monday for the first time since suffering the ankle injury.
He had a 54-yard touchdown catch and ran in the game-winning score in overtime in his last full game. It was a sign that he seemed to finally be coming around following a torn ACL that sidelined him for most of last season.
"I still believe I'm capable of the things that I've shown on the field before, so when I'm able to make those plays, when those plays come to me, make those plays and don't force anything and take it one day at a time," Barkley said. "That's really the only thing I can do. Those are my expectations. Take it one day at a time, be a leader that I am, and be the playmaker that I know I can be and know that I will be."
Ryan was ruled out Saturday afternoon and will need two negative tests 24 hours apart to return for next week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
"When you're on that, you obviously can't play," Judge said. "Is there a small chance that he can still test out and be available? There is. We're preparing for all situations of not being available as well as if it turns around in the last minute he is, we're prepared for that as well."
Ryan's absence is a huge loss against quarterback Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Ryan leads the Giants with 72 tackles and two forced fumbles.
The first positive test for Ryan came Friday morning. Further testing didn't seem to rule out the idea of a false positive.
Julian Love is expected to start in his place.
"It's tough," Love said Friday after Ryan told him earlier in the day he was asymptomatic and going through his normal routine. "It's tough to see. First and foremost, you just want to wish safety to him and everyone he is around, his family and all that. That is kind of what is on my mind for him -- his health and safety."