Running Back Saquon Barkley
August 9, 2021
Q: So how’d it feel?
A: It felt good to just be back out there playing football. The most fun part I would say is being back out there with your teammates. Obviously, the next step in my rehab process and just thankful to be able to go back out there and play football with my teammates and be able to get to practice. It’s what I love.
Q: When did you find out you were coming off of PUP? Can you walk us through who told you and your emotions were kind of like?
A: Saturday, I found out. I talked to (Head Team Physician/Orthopedics) Dr. (Scott) Rodeo, (Director of Rehabilitation/Physical Therapist) Leigh (Weiss) and (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie Barnes. We kind of just went over how I feel. I think I got to a point in rehab where going over there against garbage cans and cutting on cones and stuff, that was all good and stuff, but now I get to a point where I start reacting off of other athletes and they agreed with me. They felt the same. Obviously, just one more step up that journey of getting me back. The best part of it is to be back out there with my teammates and just be able to practice even if it’s a little bit or a lot, whatever I can do to just get out there and do what I love is important to me.
Q: Saquon, is this is a good time? It’s two weeks into camp, it’s not deep deep deep. You haven’t played a game yet, this team. Is this a good time for you to start this up?
A: Yeah, I would say it’s a good time. I think I know what you’re trying to get at, meaning with me and when I can come back and get ready for the regular season, I’m not even thinking about that. I just want to be able to get out there and practice and just play football with my teammates again. I’m very fortunate that that day was able to be today. But with that kind of thought process that you’re alluding to, for me it’s just continue to listen to my body, continue to listen to (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge, Leigh, Ronnie and Dr. Rodeo and all them, and take it one day at a time and one step at a time.
Q: And ‘when people say, are you going to be ready for game one?’
A: I’m going to give y’all the same answer I’ve been giving you, and it’s not like I’m trying to blow smoke or anything like that. To be honest, I don’t know. Obviously, you guys know how I am as a competitor. I’m pretty sure you guys know what my thought process is, but at the same time, I’m very fortunate to play for an unbelievable coach and an unbelievable organization that’s actually thinking about me and thinking about the rest of my career and the longevity of my career and I don’t feel forced. We have a great team here, great strength staff, great trainers who are doing everything they can and when the time is the time, that’ll be the time for me to come back.
Q: But you have to be encouraged that this is more than a month out from the regular season and you’re actually starting to practice now, and it gives you more than a month to be ready for Week 1?
A: I guess you could say that. For me, my mindset is definitely hopeful and it’s definitely better being able to practice now then, like you said, later on in camp. It was a little bit just to be able to get out there and just get the feel of things. It’s the little things, like forgetting where to go for warmups. I had to ask (Fullback) Eli (Penny), ‘Where we at? Where we at?’ Kind of feeling like a rookie out there again, but it’s just good to be back out here and be able to break the team down again and just do what I love to do.
Q: You always hear about guys coming back from ACLs, confidence is like the biggest hurdle, like confidence in the knee. When will you know that it’s there and that it’s back?
A: I don’t know. I guess those conversations are about to happen with Leigh and Ronnie Barnes and Coach Judge, things I’ll be able to do to simulate. That’s the only way you’re going to know. Back to what I said, I felt like I got to a point over there where obviously what I was doing was really helpful, but the next phase was to get that part, get the confidence. It’s different running at a black garbage can and to be able to make that cut and simulating what you’re going to do in a game or do in practice instead of actually having (Defensive Lineman) B.J. Hill shedding a block or you’re reading (Tackle) Nate Solder’s block. That’s going to come with time I guess you could say. I guess that would be my answer, come with time and repetition.
Q: Have you gotten to the point where it’s almost second nature again and natural to do all those things or do you still have to kind of re-train yourself?
A: I’m not really second-guessing myself, but like I said, that was over there. I think I know how I’m going to be, but the only way I’m going to figure it out is continuing to take reps, continuing to simulate live situations and actually playing football again.
Q: Would you be comfortable for Week 1 if you did not play in the preseason?
A: Would I be comfortable Week 1? I think I didn’t really play in the preseason games like, I don’t think I played in one last year, we didn’t have one. The year before that I don’t think I played in one. My rookie year, I played one and got like two carries. So, I wouldn’t really be worried about that if I didn’t play preseason because I know that Coach and the training staff and the strength staff wouldn’t let me out there if I didn’t show them something that I’m capable of going out there and wanting to keep myself safe and also going out there and competing at a high level.
Q: Did you lose weight?
A: No. I look good is what you’re trying to say? I think I’m like the same weight about, probably like 230, 232, around there. Nah, I didn’t lose weight, but thank you.
Q: Joe mentioned that philosophically if they say you’re good to go, he would like to basically get you in a preseason game. What would you think of that?
A: I mean, one thing for me, I’m all for whatever’s going to help the team win. If that’s the mindset Coach Judge and Leigh and the training staff believe in and they would like to see me get live reps in an actual preseason game, if they feel that’s what I need to do to get myself back for whenever I’m able to come back with my time, I’m willing to do that. I mean, nothing really changed. Obviously, I know I didn’t play a whole year of football, but I believe that the way to success is having that team mindset, and that’s never going to change.
Q: Have you been lobbying to practice since the start of camp? Saturday is when you said they said yes.
A: What do you mean by that?
Q: Like have you been arguing I’m good enough to be on the field? I would imagine that.
A: Rehab was definitely tough. I think Leigh and them are probably kind of happy that I’m out and practicing and not annoying them in the training room. But nah, obviously, you know how I am as a competitor. Especially, it’s different when you look and see your team competing, see your team getting into fights and going at it and you can’t be a part of that, so you definitely miss that part of it. Obviously, my competitive edge, I want to be out there. But I know you’ve got to trust the process and you’ve got to stay the course and you’ve got to continue to run that race and take it day by day and believe in the system that we have and listen to those guys. Even if I felt I was ready to do this, but Leigh and them felt that I wasn’t going to be ready, then I would have been over there running at garbage cans and still preparing myself for whenever I was able to be ready to go.
Q: Saquon, you said you’re going to listen to your body, what is your body telling you after this first day?
A: I felt really good today. I’ll let you guys in on a little secret with ACL rehab, it’s not really the front of the week, it’s the back load of the week. Just building that callous up in your body again, taking those reps. When I mean that, not just your knee in general, it’s just football conditioning shape. You can do all the running you do over there, but it’s really never similar to football shape. The best example I can have is if you played high school basketball and high school football, you can play the whole football season and then go play basketball. But you can do all that running, but you’re not in basketball shape. It’s kind of the same thing. Just still listening to my body and it felt good today. I’m going to go in and get in a lift and continue to work on my rehab process and continue to get my knee right and my body right and the more I’m allowed to do it, I’m going to attack it 110 percent and try to get better every day.
Q: You didn’t consider jumping in the fight, did you?
A: I mean, I would love to have been a part of that, but I think I made the smart decision. Actually, to be honest, I didn’t even see what happened at first because our O-line did an amazing job on the left side on our wide zone, so I was over like dancing and screaming. Then, when it obviously had broken down – I know the fight was a big deal towards the media, but I think at the end of the day when you leave it on the field and we’re able to come into the locker room and we’re all joking about it, all laughing about it -- I mentioned it to some of the guys on this team, I do believe we will have a very special year and that’s one thing we’ll be able to point back to. I say that really helped bring us together and helped push us towards the next thing, things we want to accomplish.
Q: You weren’t in the fight, but you were in the punishment. You were ahead in the punishment.
A: Yeah, because I’m still part of the team. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was actually allowed to do that, so thankful nothing came out of that. But Coach said, ‘Line it up,’ and like I said, even though I didn’t play football in a year besides obviously now, my mindset and one of my goals was not to come back and be all by myself and worry about, ‘Oh, this is how I feel, this is how I feel.’ Obviously, be smart about it, but I’m part of the team. If we get punished as a team, I see myself and I think the team would agree that as one of the leaders of the team, I’d be out there running with them.
Q: Did anybody give you any grief today?
A: Oh, you know. That’s just the nature of being out and coming back. Got some of the ‘Woah, who is that?’ shaking my hand and introducing themselves. That’s all fun, love and games. Like I said, it’s just fun to be back out there. These are things you miss, even that joking around. Some of the guys on the defensive side can’t wait to get their hands on me, too. I’ll always say that because I do talk a lot of trash on offense and defense. All that teasing is a great experience though. I just can’t wait until to do more whether that’s this week, next week or the week after that. I can’t wait to do that stuff, too.