RB Saquon Barkley -- August 17, 2020
Q: First practice in pads, it’s come a little later than normal. What were your emotions today getting back out there playing real football given how last season went? How eager are you to put that behind you and be more productive and fresher? Can you walk me through what your emotions were like, how you felt out there today and what you are anticipating this year?
A: It was great. Any time you are able to go out there and you are presented with an opportunity to play the sport that you love, you have to go try and take advantage of it. We got to put on pads for the first time in a while. Any time you get that, and the pads get popping, everyone is definitely eager to get out there. It’s another day, another day at work, another day to get better, another day to try to improve, and I think we were able to do that today.
Q: Coach Judge has talked a lot about sudden change and how the team has to respond to that? This summer is all about sudden change, you guys have to wear masks, you have to take busses to practice. The tempo seemed very fast, guys are doing penalty laps. How much do you think this can help, if this team can handle this sudden change that Joe Judge and this pandemic is throwing at you guys?
A: I believe it can help a lot. That’s part of football. You are going to have sudden change. There are times in games where the offense might have a turnover, the defense might create a turnover and vice versa and we have to go out on the field and be able to respond and be able to capitalize on that moment. Like you said, what’s going on, football is not the way it was in the past. It’s not like we are just at Quest, we are doing different things. That’s part of the game, not just the game but that’s part of life. I think the fact that Coach Judge is addressing that, that can definitely help us throughout the season.
Q: When is the last time you saw guys doing penalty laps because of mistakes?
A: I don’t know. We’re focusing on being a detailed team and holding each other accountable. The little things matter and that comes with the territory.
Q: You go work this offseason and then come back. What makes you think you are a better Saquon Barkley this year?
A: That’s something that you have to try to improve on every year. Try to be a better version of yourself, try to improve on your game. It’s the little things that you do in the offseason. It’s the stuff that you focus on. The details in cutting, the details in watching film, of watching other people on film and trying to expand your game. The way I feel I can be a better Saquon Barkley, I guess you could say, is by coming here every single day, coming to work and trying to continue to earn the respect of my teammates. Continuing to try to push myself and push my teammates. At the end of the day, it’s all about the team. That’s the mindset we need to have in order to go out there and have a successful season.
Q: What has it been like running behind Andrew Thomas for the first couple of times?
A: It’s been awesome, he is doing a great job. The whole offensive line is doing a great job, especially starting with Coach Colombo. I love the way, the focus on the details of everything, the details and focusing on little things. We are trying to improve every single day. Not only Andrew but the entire offensive line. The run game as a whole is doing a pretty good job so far.
Q: There’s a lot of new pieces on the offensive line, some of them has been shuffled around. Does it take time to build chemistry between a running back and an offensive line? How do you do that without any preseason games?
A: I guess you could say that’s kind of the nature of the game and the nature of the position. Especially with the run game. Practice reps, just repetition. Keep repping it and repping it. Keep working on it and going back and watching film, seeing what we could have done different. I think the coaches are doing a great job of simulating how we would do it in preseason anyway. Come out to practice, focus on the little things and hopefully that will translate over to the game.
Q: Coach said he is really impressed with how eager you are to be coached. What’s your philosophy in that regard?
A: I definitely appreciate that compliment. Just come to work every day, ask a lot of questions and try to improve. I feel like the only way you can improve is by being coached. Obviously, I’m not naïve to the fact that I was blessed with a tremendous talent. The way you improve on that is by focusing on little things, focus on the details and listen to your coaches. I think we have a great coaching staff here, from coach Judge all the way down to the position coaches, all the guys. I want to be great and I want to be great for this team. I know that starts with taking coaching and learning from them.
Q: We have been in a pandemic for five months. When you get on the football field, can you just totally push all that to the side and concentrate on your job, your task at hand, football?
A: There is a lot of stuff going on in the world. For me, even if it’s anything, let’s say there is something going on in my personal life, football is a place for me where you can kind of just let go. You get to go back to that time when you were a little kid. You get to wake up every single day and do the thing that you love. Something that I feel like I have wanted to do since I was a kid, I feel like I was born to do. Any time I’m out there, I just live in the moment, have fun with those guys and try to get better.
Q: There is a lot of talk nationally about Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara and guys like that, Zeke even. Do you feel like coming off the injury a year ago that you have a little bit more to prove and remind people who Saquon Barkley is on the field?
A: No. Those guys gained the respect of everyone in the league, they are tremendous backs. I’m in a space with myself where I’m not focused on everybody else. The only people I’m focused on is my family and the people in this building and trying to improve every single day. I’m not really into they aren’t talking about me or not talking about me there. Kind of like when I came here my rookie year, I’m not going to let people set expectations for me. I’m going to set my own expectations and come out there every single day and try to get better.
Q: Now that you have been in the system a few weeks and you strapped the pads on today, live hitting seemed to be back during the team drills. What are your impressions of this system and this scheme going into this year?
A: My first impression is still learning. You can see we are trying to get better every single day and it’s football. The pads get on and get popping a little bit. That’s what we signed up to do and that’s what we love to do. Obviously, it was great to get out there and get the pads popping a little bit. Definitely going to help us throughout the year.
Q: Joe Judge was telling us earlier that the reason there aren’t names on the back of the practice jerseys is you should know who each other is by the way they move. I found that really interesting, I never thought of it myself. For you in particular, does that make particular sense? I would think, I don’t know about the open field, but you have to be anticipating guys? Does Coach Judge’s rationale make sense to you?
A: I would say it definitely makes sense. I see where you’re coming from. A lot of times you are just reacting. Whether it’s just watching film, you can how those guys pop up on film. Whether it’s an older guy like Martinez or a younger guy like Darnay, you can see the things they are able to do. It’s forcing you to watch them on film and the way they react so when you go into a season that can carry over. Also just forcing you to get to know your teammates, it forces you to get to know your teammates. Everyone, not just focusing on the offensive side. Everyone who plays a role on special teams, everyone who plays a role on defense and all the guys coming in. I would say that’s where it plays a big role, too.
Q: How did it feel to bounce that one to the right? It looked like you made it to the endzone? Did you feel all of your normal explosiveness? Did it feel good to convert like that on the football field?
A: Yeah, it felt good just to be out there in general. We did get some pretty nice running plays going on. Not only myself but all the backs. The O-line did a great job setting that up for me. It feels good to get out there, get the feel and get some work with the defense and get each other better.
Q: Can you take me to your reaction as a fan and as a guy who was a top prospect when the Big Ten cancelled football this fall?
A: That’s a tough one seeing the Big Ten cancel football, obviously as a fan and also playing in the Big Ten. It sucks to not be able to see those guys out there, especially those younger guys. People talk about the example of Joe Burrow was supposed to be a sixth or seventh round pick and then ended up being the number one pick in the draft. I definitely feel bad for those guys. At the end of the day, I’m just happy and fortunate that in the NFL we get to go out and do it. You have to be careful, you have to be smart. This is a tough thing that is going on in the world right now. Even though how badly you want to play and how bad I want to see those guys play, you also have to have a little understanding, I guess.
Q: You are a detail orientated guy, you mentioned earlier Colombo with the details. Obviously, Joe Judge is a detail guy. Has anything you’ve seen so far that the coaches have identified kind of opened your eyes a little bit? Being a detail guy and (thinking) ‘I didn’t think of it that way. I wouldn’t have expected to be told this is how we are doing it, this is how it’s being broken down’?
A: Definitely. I would say I always thought I was a detail guy but now I have to be even more, the way we are getting coached, which is great. All the little things. You really don’t even think about it. I used to be at a point where I’m reading the line of scrimmage, reading the defenders and trying to set up a block. It can start with your footwork on that play. How you can determine how you can set up a block from there. The ball carrying, put it in the left hand or if you are going right. Crossing over, how to switch it, the little things. Obviously, you go out there and we know how to catch a ball but focusing on the catch and bringing it to the tuck so when you go out there on the football field all those little things come natural. Not only coach Judge and coach Burton, but all the coaches from offense, defense and special teams are really focusing on all the little things. We have to continue to grow in that area, too, especially beating another team. If we are able to focus on those things, I feel like it will help us this year.