Saquon Barkley, in Year 2 with the Giants, is not close to the player and performer he was in 2018 — when he was the runaway winner of the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. There is even more losing for Barkley to deal with, and that is wearing on him, as well.
“I think he’s a young player, and he’s grinding through the season,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said. “A lot of things went well for him last year, and he’s grinding through this season. I think there’s a lot to be learned from that. We all grind through it. At times, it’s about perseverance and trying to get it right until you can push it over the top and win consistently. That’s where we’re at right now.’’
Barkley missed three games with a high ankle sprain and does not want to hear about that injury any longer — declaring he is healthy, despite the severe dip in production. He has run for 28, 1 and 59 yards in his past three games and averaged a pedestrian 2.0 yards per carry, gaining 88 yards on his past 44 rushing attempts.
“I don’t look at it that way, but he’s not lying,’’ Barkley said of Shurmur’s assertion. “I’m only 22, in my second year. You have to hold yourself to a standard and hold yourself to higher expectations. That’s how I am and that’s how I’m going to continue to be. Even though you face adversity or the season isn’t going how you want, as a team you have to keep working.’’
Packers first-year head coach Matt LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach with the Falcons and offensive coordinator for the Rams during the time James Bettcher ran the defense for the Cardinals. There is a familiarity there. Bettcher has not fully stamped his style on the Giants’ defense since arriving in 2018.
“I think the scheme is really good,’’ LaFleur said. “They’re going to throw a lot of different things at you. There’s going to be a lot of different looks, a lot of exotic looks that we’ve got to be prepared for. I think there’s a lot to worry about from our perspective. I’ve got a lot of respect for James Bettcher, I’ve gone against him many times. I know it’s always a test whenever you’re playing his defense. They just throw a lot of stuff at you.’’
Zak DeOssie’s season is officially over, as expected, after the Giants placed him on the IR Saturday. … With S Jabrill Peppers (back) missing his first game this season, all eyes will be on rookie Julian Love, expected to make his first NFL start. Love played a season-high 41 snaps on defense last week and came away with his first career interception.
“I think with Julian since he’s walked in, he has been a guy that’s ahead of some other young guys I have been around, from just meeting, from just awareness,’’ Bettcher said. “Not just awareness of what’s going on but also self-awareness.”
Packers RB Aaron Jones has scored 17 touchdowns in his past 17 games. … The Packers have committed just eight turnovers this season. Aaron Rodgers has thrown two interceptions in 380 passes. … B.J. Goodson, a 2016 fourth-round pick out of Clemson, started 20 games for the Giants in 2017 and 2018. The Packers traded for Goodson in early September, and he’s started seven of the 11 games he’s played in for Green Bay.
“B.J.’s been a good, steady presence,’’ LaFleur said. “He plays really, really physical. He’s a football guy, so when he came in he picked up the system pretty fast.’’
For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:
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