Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: (Wide Receiver) John Ross (III) told us that last game when he was in the game, the Saints DBs were actually like, 'Move back, move back,' because he's so fast. I'm wondering how having fast receivers like Ross and (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney help you? Have you noticed there are less guys in the box? Does it give you more space when teams have to respect the deep ball more?
A: Yeah, it just helps the offense as a whole when you've got playmakers out there. That goes from John, to KT, to KG (Wide Receiver Kenny Golladay), to Slay (Wide Receiver Darius Slayton), Shep (Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard), when they're healthy. To (Tight End) Evan (Engram), to (Tight End) Kyle (Rudolph), all those guys. We're showing that we can make plays in the pass game and overall, that's going to help the run game. We've just got to keep sticking to it and keep working on it and every week it's going to improve and get better.
Q: Had you noticed that teams were stacking the box a little bit more before you guys were able to hit some big plays last week?
A: Yeah, you could see how defenses will attack the run game, especially in the RPO, but that's what football is for. You've got to be a team that can do it all. We've got to be able to run the ball. In the passing game, there's going to be some games where the run game takes over and we'll win the game like that. There's going to be some games where the passing game takes over. We've just got to continue to help each other out and be efficient on offense, so we can also help out special teams and help out our defense. Overall, that helps you get wins.
Q: You and Zeke (Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott) have been sort of the marquee running backs in the division for a couple years here, what's your relationship with him like? Do you compare notes?
A: I haven't talked to Zeke in a minute. When I got hurt, he hit me up on Instagram, I believe. Any time we see each other, it's nothing but love, nothing but respect. He's one of my favorite players to watch, one of my favorite players to go against. I've been going against him since I was 18-years old at Penn State, (and it was) his last year at Ohio State. So, I've always been a big fan of him and to see him starting to come back and show the world he's still elite and he's still that guy, which everyone else pretty much knew that. I'm just happy for him and look forward to seeing him Sunday.
Q: It's been a while since you guys have both been full strength going against each other, are you excited to for that?
A: Yeah, it's always a fun matchup going against him. Obviously, it's not like you're just going against Ezekiel Elliott. But as competitors, you tend to look up a bit more when you're going against a guy like that and see what he's doing, and it helps motivate you and want to push you to do a little better.
Q: Were you heartbroken at pick number 11 in April when (Cowboys Linebacker Micah) Parsons is sitting there and you're watching the draft and the Giants are on the clock and you heard it's a trade?
A: Micah's my guy. Actually, I was texting him when it happened, and he was up there and obviously I saw the trade. I'm happy for him. He got drafted to a great organization, a great team and he's a heck of a player and I think he's showing how special he is already and he's only going to get better. He's a freak athlete. You see clips of him playing defensive end and then you see him playing linebacker. You see him covering. You see just how fast he is running to the ball. He's a special player. (I'm) happy for him that he's having a lot of success and can't wait to look forward going against him on Sunday.
Q: I guess he can't stay at your house anymore though? He told everybody he stayed at your house before the draft, you going to let a Cowboy stay at your house?
A: Yeah, it wouldn't be on the weeks we play each other (laughs), but we're good friends. I kind of help recruited him to come to Penn State. Obviously, (Penn State Head) Coach (James) Franklin and all those guys, (Penn State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers) Coach Pry and (Giants Defensive Line Coach and Former Penn State Associate Head) Coach (Sean) Spencer did a really good job of helping me get there, too. So, I knew him since he was 17, 18-years old and I was happy to see a guy from the area he's from, he put a lot of hard work in to be able to come in the NFL and (he's) slowly emerging as one of the marquee players in the NFL. I'm just happy for him. But to answer your question, (in the) offseason, yeah, it's a lot of love. But right now, it's not as much love as it would be in the offseason, I'll say that.
Q: What's been the key to getting the screen game going? What's the key to that?
A: We work it. We work it. I've got a good feel for it. The o-line's got a good feel for it. Not just myself, even with KT, I think we've been able to see what KT's able to do. It's important. The screen game gets your playmakers in space. It's big to set it up and have good relationships with the offensive linemen who's getting out there and the wide receivers who are blocking for you. We've been making some big plays on that. It kind of started against Atlanta. We were close, we were close, we were close, and we've still got so much more room to grow in that area of our game in my opinion.
Q: What's that balance like because obviously you're faster than your offensive linemen, so do you have to sort of like…?
A: It's just a feel. It's just a feel for it. It's understanding the count, how long you've got to take to get out, give them a head start so they can get on the blockers – and when they get on the blockers it helps you see it a little bit better, too. Just a feel, understanding the timing of it and being on the same page.
Q: I don't know if over the last year we've asked you anything about your knee (laughs), but the question I have though is after you were hurt, did (Bears Defensive Back) Eddie Jackson ever reach out to you?
A: Yeah, actually he did. He did reach out to me. He reached out and was like – I'm trying to remember, but basically, he hit me up and was saying like, 'I hope everything's okay.' Obviously, it was not like a dirty play or nothing like that and I was like, 'Yeah, we all good bro, much love and keep going, stay healthy.' But yeah, he did reach out to me after the game. Not just Eddie, just a whole bunch of players in the NFL when that happened and now, even in games. A lot of people are coming up to me and saying that they are happy to see me back out there and that it's better for the league to have me out there healthy. That's the thing they're always saying. At the end of the day, obviously you're competing on Sundays and you're trying to take each other's heads off and get the win, but the NFL's kind of a big brotherhood and you never want to see anyone go down. You just want to see everyone thrive and be successful and stay healthy.
Q: What showed you more that you're back to being yourself – the catch, touchdown, cut across the field or the game-winning touchdown between the tackles, a quick cut behind the line of scrimmage? What said to you more, 'All right, that's me'?
A: First one got me in my bag. After I scored, I was like, 'Yeah.' In my bag means in the zone, I got in my zone. I liked the last one. It probably made me feel like I'm getting closer to feeling better. Just the fact because the play before that I was in, I fumbled the ball. Obviously, you fumble, and you go out. I got my mind right back into it and I was still with it and to be able to go out there and they handed the ball off and trusted I'd make those cuts and get in the endzone was big for the team and also big for my confidence. I'd probably say the last one probably more, but I know that this is going to be an every week thing. Everyone is going to ask me about my knee, but like I said, I just keep trusting people – the trainers and all the people I talk to knowing that every single day I got to keep going in there and keep working with it and that's something that I'm going to keep doing.
Q: You spent a lot of time with (Linebacker) Lorenzo (Carter) last year rehabbing. You guys both had very significant injuries, what have you seen from him? Did you guys help each other sort of pull and push each other along?
A: Yeah, we were on and off because I was here, in AZ, L.A., but we're really close. We've been here – I think it was me, him, Gatesy (Center Nick Gates), (Guard) Will (Hernandez) from our class, I think that's it right now. But we were always chopping it up in there every time. Our lockers are not too far, and I always check with him and he checks with me and see how he's feeling. Obviously, two different injuries, but I got to see a little bit of the work he put in and he got to see a little bit of the work I put in. I'm happy for him. At the end of the day, you want to go out there and you want to win, but in reality, when you come back from a major injury you realize that the game can be taken from you every single day. So, when you know someone had to go through the same thought process and the same recovery and the same rehab, just seeing those guys getting back on the field and come off the field healthy is a win for them. I'm just happy to see him keep going and as the season continues to go, keep improving and getting better.