Giants' Saquon Barkley feeling good ahead of Commanders game

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley said he's feeling "way better" after being limited with a neck injury in a 38-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Barkley popped up on the injury report last week after suffering a stinger in practice on Dec. 7. He had an MRI late in the week and his playing status against the Eagles was in jeopardy.

The NFL's fourth-leading rusher ended up having 28 yards on a season-low nine carries against Philadelphia. He played a season-low 20 offensive snaps, in part because of the lopsided nature of the game and the coaching staff's decision to limit his workload.

But Barkley is off the injury report this week and has been a full participant in practices heading into Sunday's pivotal matchup against the Washington Commanders. A win would increase the Giants' chances of reaching the postseason from 53% to 89%, according to ESPN analytics.

"I feel pretty good. I don't feel no better or no worse than anyone else who is in Week 15," Barkley said Thursday. "I feel the same way. I put a lot of work in my body. I put a lot of money in my body. I'm just happy. Last couple years I haven't been this healthy in December. I'm healthy and I just want to go out there and try to make a difference for my team."

Barkley is key for the Giants (7-5-1), who are 7-1 when he rushes for 70 or more yards, and accounts for 32% of their total offense. He has played 79% of the team's offensive snaps this season, the most of any running back in the league.

His workload is not expected to be limited this week.

"No restrictions," coach Brian Daboll said. "He had a full practice."

Barkley thought Wednesday was his best practice of the year. He was content with what he put on the field Thursday, as well, and was in good spirits afterward.

"I was bah-bah-bah. I was out there," a smiling Barkley said while gesturing as if he was dodging defenders. "I had my best practice, to be completely honest."

It's different than last week, when Barkley was limited at practice Thursday and Friday. He was officially listed as questionable for the Philadelphia game.

For the first time this year, the Giants even had running back Gary Brightwell take the second offensive series of that game in place of Barkley. It's unlikely a similar approach will take place this weekend, unless Barkley suffers a setback.

"Definitely feel a lot better. Been able to go out there, practice, get reps. Felt pretty good," he said. "That's really it."

Barkley is especially excited to be participating in an impactful game. He was sidelined late in the 2020 season when the Giants played some December games with a chance to reach the postseason. This is the first time in his professional career that he has had a winning record at any point of the season.

The explosive back has experienced individual success against Washington. His career 6.1 yards per carry vs. the Commanders is his second highest against any team. The most productive rushing game of his career (189 yards in 2019) came against them.

"Yeah, can't read too much into that," he said. "It's a new game, new season, new opportunity. I'm just really excited for the opportunity.

"Have a great opportunity in front of us. Just go out there and try to capitalize on it."