Running Back Saquon Barkley
September 10, 2021
Q: Are you playing?
A: Woah, okay, so let’s get right to it (laughs). That’s a conversation – Obviously, I know (Head Coach Joe) Judge said that (there was) another hurdle I have to step over today. (There’s) a conversation I’m going to have with (Director of Rehabilitation/Physical Therapist) Leigh (Weiss), (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer Ronnie) Barnes, Coach Judge and the doc(tor) and I guess we’ll see.
Q: I know you hear us asking you this all the time. I’m curious when you’re out in the world, do you have people coming up to you asking you if you’re playing Week 1? Have you had that all year?
A: Yeah, I’ve been hearing that pretty much all summer, all year. Especially with fantasy football. I guess people trying to get the scoop on it. I guess fantasy football’s a big thing and that’s I guess a big topic. For me, I’m just continuing to come out here and take it one day at a time, enjoy being able to play football again with my teammates.
Q: How ready do you feel? Do you feel like you can go out there and do everything that you’ve done in the past?
A: I wouldn’t go out there if I didn’t feel confident that I could protect myself and be helpful for the team. That’s going to come within the conversations that obviously Coach Judge and the doc and Leigh and Barnes have, and that’ll kind of be, I guess the indicator with how I feel and how this week went whether I guess I play this week or not.
Q: As you stand here today though, do you feel like you could protect yourself?
A: Yeah, I mean, practice and the game (are) totally different, but I’ve been having a really good week of practice just getting back out there trusting the knee, getting my football conditioning back in the flow of things, getting a feel for the run game, for the pass game, for pass-pickup and all that. Yeah, but like I said, it’s a totally different feeling from out here. Obviously, we do a great job simulating practice to Sunday, but it’s a totally different feeling and I guess you really won’t know until you’re out there on Sunday.
Q: Obviously, when you got back to full practice you were pretty stoked. Have you daydreamed about what Sunday will be like to be back out there after this long road and what not?
A: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about just playing back on Sunday in front of fans since probably a week after my injury. Obviously, you have that little state of mind where you’re upset. You’re like, ‘Why me?’ You’re depressed and this and that, but then it’s come to kind of right after – you’ve got to start grinding and getting yourself back. I’m a big visualizer thinker so I’ve been fantasizing of getting back on that field with my teammates and playing in there in front of fans. Obviously, last year we didn’t have fans, so whenever the opportunity does come, it’s something that I’m definitely going to cherish and never take for granted again.
Q: Just as a quick follow-up on that, obviously you’re a captain here and a lot of guys look up to you. Do you have a feel for psychologically how uplifting it could be for the guys around you who have seen everything you’ve gone through to see you out there on Sunday?
A: I haven’t thought about it that way. But I’ve got great teammates and a whole bunch of friends throughout the team who have been with me through this whole process, who helped sacrifice for me, staying extra, sacrificing in their training time to come out here and train with me so I can compete with someone else. So, I’m very thankful for my teammates and coaches and trainers I have here in this whole organization. They’ve been amazing during this process, during the sort of rehab process. That’s only going to make it so much sweeter whenever I am able to get back out there on the field for them.
Q: I’m making a quick assumption here – but you’re going to go in there – I’m sure you want to play, right? Are you going to go in there and say, ‘I’m ready to play’? How are you going to approach that?
A: I’m going to go in there – I’m (going to) go in there, I’m (going to) sit down and I’m going to say, ‘I’m going to do whatever the team wants me to do,’ and whatever they believe is the best thing for me and for the team and if they feel like it’s ready for me to go, then I’m ready to go. If they feel like they think I should wait it out a little bit, then I’ll wait it out a little bit.
Q: And if they ask for your opinion?
A: If they ask for my opinion, then I’m (going to) say whatever the team wants me to do, I’m down to do.
Q: (Joe) Judge said that as long as you didn’t have a setback today, that it looked good, so did you have a setback today?
A: No, I didn’t have a setback. We had a great practice as a team. You want to come out here and have a fast Friday and look crisp. Obviously, throughout the team period, I think we did a great job as a team. Now, we’ve got to go back, watch some more film, get our bodies right and get ready for Sunday.
Q: We talk so much about the injury in Week 2, we always forget that Week 1 last year was probably your most frustrating game in the NFL. I can tell by your face, maybe not, but do you ever think back to that and how maybe that frustration in Week 1, did that lead you to do more in Week 2 and almost get you injured?
A: That’s a great point. As I look back and think about that, I do think the frustration of Week 1 led me just to go into Week 2 with a different mindset. That’s something that I’ve talked personally with my family and teammates. Last time I played a game of football, I didn’t play in the right place of heart. It wasn’t out of love. It was kind of to show like that this is who I am, and I would never allow that to happen again.
Q: This entire process, physically, we know what you had to go through away from the public. When you’ve stepped up here, going through your camp and even every time you’ve interviewed, has it been a challenge for you to not just come out here and declare yourself healthy, ready, ‘I’m playing,’ because some guys take a different tact and don’t hold back. It seems like you’ve towed the line and you haven’t given an inch, basically is what I’m trying to say. I’m curious for you, has that been a challenge or does that come naturally?
A: No, it hasn’t been a challenge. I’m sticking to the game plan. I knew this was going to be a tough rehab process with my knee, what happened with my knee. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get back, but I said I made a promise to myself that I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to go out there and be a team player. I’m going to listen to everyone that I’m working with. I’m not the expert in this area, so I’m going to listen to them. Just only thing I know I can do is attack at full speed, go out there and work my butt off to get myself the best opportunity and just stick with the game plan. So, that’s why when I say or I come up here and I say that’s how I’m going to go up there to meetings, and say whatever the team wants me to do or when I come up here and I say I take it one day at a time, that’s not just some B.S. to you guys so you guys can’t go write that I might play here, I might play there. It’s me being real, it’s me being honest. That’s my mindset I’ve had throughout this whole rehab process and I’m going to have for the rest of my career. I’m going to take it one day at a time, I’m going to cherish every moment because the game could be taken away from you at any moment.
Q: When did your rehab change to where we’re now having this conversation with you that Sunday is a very real possibility? When did you get over whatever that biggest hurdle was?
A: You know, it kind of got to the point where when I got off PUP, I just felt like over there, I was doing everything that they wanted me to do, and I just worked with them and asked them and I kind of told them that I feel like I’m at the point where there’s no more I can do over there. I’ve got to start experiencing some contact, some football situation, because running all over there and running all day is good, but at the end of the day I’m not a track star, I’m not a track runner. I’m a football player and the only way you can get into football shape and get yourself prepared for a football season is actually playing and practicing football. I kind of started there, and then when I got out on the field and started practicing, I found myself not really thinking about my knee. I’ve noticed that prior to that with rehab. Anytime we would do like the things I struggled with the most in my rehab was more like training stuff, not football specific stuff. When I started to do football specific stuff and put a ball in my hand, my reaction and everything would just come so easy because it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a little kid. So, I guess you would say once I was able to start to get out there and start practicing again and realize that the only time I really thought about my knee was when someone would be like, ‘how’s it feel? How’d you do it like that?’ I guess that would be kind of the big hurdle to the reason why we’re even having this conversation right here. I know that was a long-winded answer, but hopefully you get my drift.
Q: It’s a good answer because the body follows the mind, right?
Q: What do you think about the idea of a pitch count, if you were to play, but they only put you out there for 20 snaps or 30 snaps?
A: Do whatever the team wants me to do.
Q: What about the team playing two games in 4 or 5 days?
A: Do whatever the team wants me to do.