That noise in the background is the Saquon Barkley hype train leaving the station.
As if the buzz and hyperbole around Barkley isn’t enough, New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur had to step it up a level or three, touting his rookie running back’s showing through Organized Team Activities (OTAs) to date. Barkley, the second-overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft, was considered the best athlete in the draft and as close to a sure-thing as there was. He was head and shoulders the best running back prospect and someone who some mock drafts and NFL insiders had going first overall.
The former Penn State running back had a truly outstanding career in the Big Ten. He comes to a Giants team with a revamped offensive line, part of an offensive rebuild that saw some shakeups in recent months.
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There are a lot of pieces around him for success and the Giants, in turn, have seen him meet or exceed some of those lofty expectations.
“He hasn’t disappointed us one bit. We have high expectations for all of our rookies, especially Saquon,” Shurmur said on Tuesday. “He has been out there running the ball well and is catching it well. He did a nice job today in pass protection. He is doing all the things now that we need to see him do to trust him out on the field next fall. He has done a good job.”
With Barkley in the fold, the Giants are almost ensured of an improved ground game. The team’s rushing offense has been near the bottom of the NFL the past two years and general manager Dave Gettleman, as well as Shurmur, promised that would change.
In Barkley, they have an explosive runner who is physical but has elite speed. He also is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield.
“You need to run the football for your offense, obviously, but also for your team. We practice runs as much as we practice passing the ball,” Shurmur said.
“You just can’t do it in the physical setting that you do when you have pads on. You practice it because it is part of your DNA. Whatever you plan to do on Sundays in the fall, you have to practice. We practice running the football and how we are going to run the ball. We practice it all the time.”
The Giants also went out this offseason and signed veteran running back Jonathan Stewart, one of the league’s better running backs the past decade. The Giants were No. 26 in the league last year in rushing offense, averaging 96.8 yards per game.