RB Saquon Barkley
May 21, 2018
Q: How did it go out there with the veterans today?
A: It went really well. It was finally cool to be out there. Obviously we had like walk through stuff before, but we actually got to practice against the defense today and I felt that I did really well, I feel like the offense is coming to me a lot quicker. But yeah, at the end of the day, itís football and I had a lot of fun.
Q: You obviously got to meet Jonathan Stewart. What was that meeting like and what has he shared with you so far?
A: Oh, yeah. Stewart is an awesome dude. Obviously he is a great vet. Iím just over here trying to watch him, trying to learn from him every single day and all the vets and all the running backs let me come in with open arms and itís been great. They are great leaders and I look forward to continuing learning from them throughout my career.
Q: He also mentioned that he can also learn from you guys. What do you think you can teach him?
A: I donít know. Thatís a good question. I would say the best thing for me personally is to continue coming in here and working every single day. Obviously he is a great vet and a great leader and a great worker, but if I continue to work and push myself every day, then itís going to push him every single day and itís going to push the running back room and make the running back room as whole better.
Q: In the Combine training, did you peak speed training wise in order to prepare for the 40-yard dash? If that is the case, how do you maintain that top-level speed?
A: Yeah. So I mean, when you train for the Combine it is different training for on the football field. The Combine is so technical and so specific down to the little things. Youíve got guys that realistically on a football field who are way faster than what they run at the Combine because of the techniques Ė the start and the strides and all of that. Obviously you train and the reason why I was training for the Combine was obviously for the Combine, but the way I view the speed is to work on the speed, but that doesnít really necessarily translate to the football field because obviously you have a ball in your hand, you have pads on your shoulders and stuff like that. So just continuing to work on your form and the little things Ė opening up your stride length does kind of translate to the football field, but the way you get fast on the football field is by the stuff you do in the weight room. Obviously you have to work on your running form, but you have to continue to get your legs stronger and work on your explosiveness.
Q: It didnít take you long to find the end zone in the team portion. I know itís just practice, but did that mean something to you?
A: Not really. I didnít even realize that I scored. I guess thatís kind of cool now that I think about it, but it was a play, I ran a play and got open, Eli found me and we were able to score and get practice started off really early and just got to continue to learn some things. In that situation, obviously it was a good play, but go back and look at how it could have been better and improve every single day.
Q: What is the process of developing chemistry with Eli (Manning) so far?
A: It has been amazing. Obviously he is a great guy; heís a great quarterback. But heís so knowledgeable about the game Ė he knows every single play where youíre supposed to be, where everybody is supposed to be and literally he can look this way and this guy ran a wrong route and he knows that guy already ran a wrong route, so I just continue to learn from him every single day and ask a lot of questions. I think Iím probably annoying to him a little bit, but I continue to ask him a lot of questions and I just want to expand on my knowledge of the game because thatís going to make me a better player and if I can continue to grow as a better player, then I can continue to help the team.
Q: How are you balancing your family life so far?
A: It actually kind of sucks a little bit Ė well that came off wrong at first. It kind of sucks because Iím not with my daughter as much as I would love to be because obviously training camp, rookie mini camp, OTAs and then I had to go to L.A. for the Rookie Premiere, but I get to see her this weekend, so that is going to be great to be able to hold her again.
Q: Excellent comeback.
A: (Laughs). Yeah that came off wrong in the beginning.
Q: Is route running the No. 1 thing that youíre working on?
A: Yeah. I mean Iím working on a lot of things, but right now route running. When you look at the great backs in the NFL right now and you look at the (Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott) Zekes and the (Steelers RB) LeíVeons (Bell) and the (Saints RB) Alvin Kamaras and all of those guys Ė one thing that stands out to you is they all can run the ball, but the reason why they separate themselves from the rest of the pack is because they can catch the ball out of the backfield and they can do it on every single down. I want to try to get myself on that level first. Obviously I have to handle what I have to handle here and focus on the playbook and getting better every single day, but as that continues to come, I have to continue to work on my route running because if you have a running back that is able to run routes and is a threat out of the backfield, that is just another thing you have to cover. So right now definitely when Iím doing one-on-ones, the ones I win, the oneís I lose, or even if itís seven-on-seven, you work on the little things Ė if itís zone, know where you have to sit; if itís man, coming back to the ball, just to be another resource for Eli to throw the ball down there. Then as a running back, weíre well known for running the ball and if you can catch the ball out of the backfield, maybe you take it from a 25-yard to a 60-yard touchdown.
Q: Do you think about catching the ball or is it so natural that you donít even have to think about it?
A: You really donít think about it. I think actually when you start to think about it is when you actually drop the ball. Itís with repetition and catching the ball every single day and using your eyes just comes naturally, but sometimes when you actually think about the ball Ė I think about in college there was one play against Michigan and I ran a wheel and I actually was thinking about it, I was overthinking because I saw the safety coming and I was thinking about trying to beat him and what I was going to try to do before and I took my eyes off of it and I dropped it. Obviously you have to continue to work on that and itís a repetition thing. Itís kind of not only with catching the ball, but running the ball Ė when you overthink sometimes, bad things happen.
Q: Is that something that has always come naturally to you?
A: It kind of always came natural to me. Actually in high school I didnít catch the ball that much, but in my earlier part of high school, my freshman and sophomore year. Then when I got to my junior year, my high school coach kind of challenged me to evolve my game and I started doing seven-on-sevenís and if youíre a running back on seven-on-seven in the high school level, you donít really do much, so I kind of hated that and I wanted to be a part of it, so they started doing things for me in the slot and lining me up wide and all of that kind of came together.
Q: When you work on route running, do you talk to the receivers like Odell (Beckham, Jr.)?
A: Definitely Odell. I used to talk to him when I used to train with him actually and like, ĎHow do you do this? How do you set that up?í He used to just tell me, obviously itís different routes from him being out wide and me being in the backfield and maybe hopefully sometimes lining up in the slot. Itís different, but you can apply that to your route running, you can apply it to how you set it up, how you bring it down, how you use your eyes, how you catch the ball. So I definitely talk to Odell and I talk to vets in the running back room Ė the Wayne Gallmans of the world and the Jonathan Stewarts of the world because theyíve been running routes for a long time in the NFL, well more Stewart than Wayne, but just continue to watch them and how they set it up.
Q: You had talked about how they used to move you around in the slot and outside at Penn State. Is that something that you feel comfortable with at this level and is that something that you want to try doing here?
A: Yeah definitely. I definitely feel comfortable with catching the ball out of the backfield and lining up in the slot. Obviously it is very early in the offense and Iím just continuing to learn it, but for me to line up in the slot, I have to show the coaches that I can catch the ball out of the backfield first. I do feel comfortable doing that, but I have to make sure the coaches feel comfortable with me, so thatís every single day coming out here and every single rep and work on my route running, whether itís in the slot or whether itís in the backfield and if itís in the backfield, working on the little things.