Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: How are you feeling? Guess it's a weekly question to start.
A: Same motto, just take it one day at a time. Keep trusting my body. Every week I feel like I'm getting more comfortable. I feel like I felt way better from playing Week 1 to Week 2. But yeah, taking it one day at a time. Still getting better every single day.
Q: You felt better after 50-whatever snaps than you did after 20-whatever snaps?
A: Yeah, that's going to be the thing for me this year every week, (it's) going to get better. Everyone that's ever tore their ACL – you don't realize how many people actually tore their knee until you tear your knee, whether it's teammates, old teammates, the (Running Back Adrian Peterson) APs, the (Wide Receiver) Julian Edelmans of the world. Getting in contact with them and they tell me every week it's going to continue to get better, continue to get better. Just got to continue to trust it and continue to work.
Q: We saw the 41-yard run, how did that feel? And then all the other runs, were you just kind of waiting for the 10 and 12-yard runs to come? It seems like it's either four or five or a big one.
A: Four or five. (I've) got to keep doing a better job of eliminating the negative plays. It felt good to open up and break a big one, but at the end of the day no points came out of that. Myself, and us as an offense, have got to do a better job of capitalizing on our big plays, but the four and five (yard runs), just keep sticking with it. The 10 and 12 (yard runs) are going to come. Last week, we ran for like 160 yards. We've got a nice little package going on, a scheme where (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) is able to use his feet, so it definitely gives the defenses something else to account for in our run game.
Q: Last week, you got limited opportunities in Week 1. How are you with that right now with getting rid of rust and finding a rhythm?
A: That's just kind of going to continue to happen as the season goes on, not playing football for a year. Last week, I felt like – I know it's going to sound weird, but my eyes and my feet were moving at the same pace. I was seeing things and making cuts as the game got on, especially towards the end of the game, a lot better, so just continue to trust it, continue to watch film. When I come out here and I practice, get the most out of my reps. Those are the things that are going to help me to continue to grow throughout the season.
Q: Is it also a feel for this offense? I forgot until it hit me this morning that you had one game in this offense last year to get a feel. I know you put in all the work and it's not about knowing the plays, but from your perspective are you still getting a feel for the scheme, what they're asking to run, how they're asking you to run? Is that all part of it?
A: No, I wouldn't say that. I think the coaches do a really good job of explaining the scheme and what's to be done in the scheme, what's my role and what I've got to accomplish throughout the plays, so I wouldn't say that. But going back to what you said, I only played one game in this scheme, meaning I only played one or two football games last year and not playing for a whole year definitely takes a part, but I don't want to use that as an excuse at all. That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm just going to continue to keep growing, keep trusting it and just having fun out there. Obviously, the season started off 0-2, but we have a great mindset within our team, within our locker room and with our coaches. I'm excited to go out there and try to get a dub in front of our home fans and get this thing rolling.
Q: How valuable were the 10 days for you?
A: Definitely big. I think I said last week, not ideal for someone coming off of a major knee injury to play two games in five days, but it is what it is. I'm happy I was able to play those two games and, like I said, I got confidence out of it. I felt like I grew throughout those two games, from one to two, and having those 10 days to get my body right, to see family, to go home, go to Penn State, see familiar faces, definitely just helped the mental part of it, too.
Q: The running game all goes hand in hand, how do all the changes up front affect you? You weren't working with (Offensive Lineman Ben) Bredeson or (Offensive Lineman Billy) Price in training camp. If we go back to last season or the season before that, you really only have experience running behind (Guard Will) Hernandez and (Tackle Nate) Solder. How does that all affect you, running behind an offensive line that's never really been stable?
A: That's a great point. I never thought about it that way, but those guys are stepping up into the roles. I'm going to continue to get flow with them and continue to grow with them throughout the year. They come out here and they work their butts off every single day. They have beliefs in the run game, and I have a belief in the run game, and they believe in me and I believe in them. That's key. Obviously, we would love for it to happen Week 1 or Week 2, but it's a 17-week season for a reason. I'd rather not be hot in the run game Week 2 and then in the middle of the season or end of the season it falls off, so we've got to get this thing going. With the run game, I think we found a new part of it – I don't think it's new because DJ showed it last year, but even on Thursday (with) him pulling it and the RPOs makes you have to respect something else in the run game. That naturally is going to help the run game out a lot, too.
Q: On the final drive with those last two runs, did you leave yards out there or did you take what was given to you there? Do you feel like if you were 100-percent do you do more there, do you gain more yards there?
A: I don't look at it that way. Always feel like no matter what, even if I break a 40-yard run if it's not a touchdown my mindset is, 'what could I have done to get into the end zone?' I wouldn't say I left yards out there, but I've got to do a little bit more to put us in a better position, whether that's break more tackles or feel it out and read it out better. Those are things that are going to continue to come. Just as an offense, we've got to find a way to capitalize on the big play by (Cornerback) James (Bradberry) there, but for me personally those two runs, I've got to be better for my team.
Q: How do you look at it that a quarterback leads the team in rushing?
A: As a competitor, obviously you want to be leading the team in rushing and leading the league in rushing, but at the end of the day you want to win games. We put ourselves in the position to win the game and we just didn't finish. That came on DJ playing a great game for us with throwing the ball and running the ball. I look at it – like I said, it's a 17-week season for a reason and I look at it as that's going to help me. There are going to be times where teams are not going to just continue to let him pull and take it for 60 or 80-yard runs, which he showed he can do. There's going to be times when that defensive end is going to have to sit and play DJ too and that's when I get my opportunity to make things and make things shake. Not only with that, with me running the ball, with him pulling it and throwing it overtop – you know, safety is coming down trying to stop the run – it's going to leave our wide receivers open over the middle and running slants and getting open. We've just got to continue to do those things. As an offense we were able to put up 29 points, but it wasn't enough. We've got to find a way to finish games and find a way to come out with a W.
Q: Was it eye-opening for you as a rookie coming into the NFL as far as on the field and off the field, how to be a pro? Was there a transition that you felt?
A: I had great vets – (Former Giants Running Back) Jonathan Stewart was here, did a really good job of seeing the way he took care of his body and how he operated, (Former Giants Quarterback) Eli Manning, (Former Giants Defensive Tackle Damon) 'Snacks' (Harrison). There were a lot of great vets that we had here, but for me I think with (Former Penn State Running Backs) Coach Huff and (Penn State Head) Coach (James) Franklin, they did a really good job when I was at Penn State and knowing my goals and knowing my dreams, what I want to do and what I want to accomplish, helping me and preparing me, getting me ready for the NFL. I think I've been doing a really good job of that so far on and off the field of handling being in New York, taking care of my body, handling ups, handling downs. I've only been in the NFL – going on year four right now, so there's going to be more of that too. I'm just going to stick to myself, be who I am and just go by that way.
Q: What'd you have to give Shep (Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard) to wear a Penn State jersey?
A: He wanted to wear a 2-6 jersey. I had to find a way to get out there. I had to show him what real college football looks like (laughs). The big way, the White Out. I wish I could've taken all my teammates, especially my SEC teammates. They have this opinion that their crowds and student sections are different, and I just keep trying to tell them that that isn't Happy Valley and when it's all white it's a whole different scene. He got to see it for himself, but it was fun to go back out there, see familiar faces and see Coach Franklin. Also, they got the job done and they got a W.
Q: What did you think about that criticism of your beer pong game, your jump shot there?
A: Yeah, they only really put my bad shots up, but that comes with it. I think it's a good thing that I'm not good at beer pong right now to be completely honest, so I'll take it with that. It was fun, on social media it was fun. Like I said, it was good to get back there and see a lot of people, but that was our little break and now it's time to get back to work.