Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: How'd you feel about sitting out the last game, and how would you feel if you sat this one as well?
A: Like I said I'm always down for whatever coach wants me to do. That was his decision. We haven't spoken about what's coming this weekend. But my mindset is just to come in ready and prepared to work.
Q: What was that game you were playing after practice? It was not like hot potato, but the --
A: Oh, like the clap ball? Yeah, I don't even know what the game's called. I don't really know. I guess they've been doing it, and it looked fun. So, I kind of just kind of joined.
Q: Good to get that competition in?
Q: Who's the best at it?
A: Today, (Safety) Julian (Love) and (Quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor) won. But I would say that I think I'm the best at it. But every day is different.
Q: Do you have this Week 1 game circled for you in terms of not necessarily who you're playing but just being healthy, being back out there, a fresh start to a new season?
A: I wouldn't really say that Week 1 is the one I circled. It was kind of just camp. Just football in general. I was so excited to get back. Fresh start. New faces. Familiar faces. Even though it was long, and it was tiring, in a weird way you kind of love the grind of camp. And that's where you kind of build your team together and find out where you need to work on. Find out what things we're capitalizing on in camp and take that onto the season. So, that's been my mindset it was never really circling Week 1 or a certain game. It's just really coming into camp and attacking that day. And attack that process. And get better every day.
Q: For you, we've seen a different public demeanor from you going back to the spring. If defiant – maybe you're angry at times about how you're perceived. What is kind of dropping an F-bomb in a podcast, not that there's anything wrong with that, but what kind of triggers that? Didn't seem like that was necessarily you, per say, your first couple of years, but maybe it was, and you just didn't…
A: I would say that's always been me. I mean, I guess just my mindset's different. Just have a different mentality. And I'm just in a place where I'm thankful – blessed. And just taking one day at a time. I mean I really, I wouldn't say anything triggered it, but I guess I would say just probably being out a couple of games the last two years. Just probably being fed up and not even with like the outside noise, but just even with having to sit out games and rehab and all that, all the bad stuff I guess you could say. I guess I'm kind of just fed up with that. So, that kind of just takes me to a place where right now I'm just happy, enjoying life, enjoying the game I love, and I just want to go out there and have fun.
Q: What are your takeaways from Head Coach (Brian) Daboll's coaching style so far?
A: I like it. He's aggressive. I feel like not only him, but all the coaches are going to do a really good job of putting your playmakers in position to make plays, whether that's on offense or defense, and it's our job to go out there and capitalize.
Q: I'm curious what do you mean by aggressive? What do you mean when you say aggressive?
A: For example, in the preseason game last week, we had fourth and one? And I don't think we got it. And he told us on the sideline, that's how he is and that's how he's going to call it and he trusts in us. It's our job and our responsibility to go out there and convert.
Q: How do you feel where you're at going into the season? I'm talking about you personally. Health. Just how you feel and how ready you feel compared to this year, the past.
A: I'm really ready. If I have to compare it to last year, way beyond what I was before. At this point last year, I just started getting back into practice because New England was our last preseason game last year, right? I just started getting back into practice. And I really didn't have as much of a time just with how the rehab process went with my knee to get myself ready. And now I don't have that. I have the whole camp to come out every single day and do a joint practice against another team, to go against (Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence) Dex, (Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams) Leo, Zay (Xavier McKinney), and all those guys. Find ways to get better and build that chemistry with (Center Jon Feliciano) Felice and (Tackle Andrew Thomas) Drew and (Tackle Evan) Neal. So, I would say that compared to last year, it's not even close. And that's why I keep saying I'm just thankful because I can go back anytime. Like I know camp is a grind, but any time I'm like, 'Dang I can always go back. But you couldn't even do this at this moment last year, so take full advantage of it.'
Q: Anything specific you can do now? Anything specific you're talking about when you're like, 'I couldn't do this last year,'?
A: I couldn't practice.
Q: In terms of like when you're out there?
A: I couldn't really, I couldn't practice. I couldn't really do anything. I was on the side running on the third field just trying to simulate practice as much as I can, and it's like there's no way to get the mind and get the body and get in physical shape for football than actually playing football. I use the example of when you guys are in high school and you play football in high school, and then you go right to basketball season, and you think you're in shape because you play football all year. But then you go to basketball, and you're not in basketball shape. It's just two completely different things. And the only way you can get in football shape is by going out there and playing football. And that's what I was not able to do at this point last year.
Q: How much better is your offense with (Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard) Shep on the field than off of it? Like how does he change the dynamic?
A: I wouldn't say the offense. I would just say the team. Everyone knows I'm a big believer in Shep; that's one of my best friends. Obviously, just we're closer not just as teammates, but outside of the team and outside of football. My daughter is really close with his daughters. And to see him back on the field brought a smile to my face. It actually hurt me when he got hurt in that game. I remember the play, and I was just like 'Oh man. It can't be. It can't be.' But to see all the work he put in and to finally get back on the field, it'll just make the offense better. It'll just make the team better because of his personality, his character, his leadership, and his energy. If anyone has anything to say about Shep, the first thing we talk about is just the way he's able to light up a room no matter what's going on. So that's big, and that's important. And I'm excited for him this year, too.
Q: What does he bring to your offense that is so unique? What can he add?
A: He's Young Shep.
Q: He's still Young Shep?
A: He's still.
Q: I remember (Safety Xavier) McKinney saying he's old now. Because he's been like he's a veteran.
A: I keep saying like the Young Shep name.
Q: No one else calls him that?
A: I mean we still call him the name Young Shep, but I joke and tell him, 'You're about 30, so the Young Shep name kind of got to go away.' But at the end of the day, seeing him run routes and seeing him go out there, he's still Young Shep. Meaning that he's a guy that's going to come out there with energy, and he can make plays. I feel like, and I don't want to speak for him, but I know in his mindset, his confidence, he feels like no one can mess with him out there. And it's important to have a guy out there that you know can play at that level, and like I said, I'm really excited for him to come back.
Q: Obviously, we're not to Week 1 yet, but you're going on the same field as (Titan Running Back) Derrick Henry. And you're obviously not playing against him per say, one of the best backs in the league, but when you step on the field with a guy like that, obviously not at the same time, do you want to, do you go into that game saying, 'I want to show them I'm just as good as this dude?' He's regarded as one of the best backs in the league.
A: I kind of had that mindset in college, but then I realized there's nothing I can do to control what he does.
Q: Well, you run for more yards than him.
A: But even say if I rush for this amount, it's not like a head-on battle. Obviously, at the end of the year, everybody wants a crown. Everybody wants a rushing title if you play the running back position, but there's nothing I personally can do. So, for me, that was kind of more my mindset in high school and college, but now there's something to it as a competitor. Like I already know I'm going to be in a game with Derrick Henry over there, with (Colts Running Back) Jonathan Taylor's over there on the side. (Panthers Running Back) Christian McCaffery's on the other side. (Packers Running Back) Aaron Jones is on the other side. You know, you have so much more respect for those backs. You take it personal at the end of the day, yeah you do; but at the end of the day, I can't control anything that they do. So, my mindset is just to go out there and be the best version of myself and be the best that I can be, and at the end of the day hopefully, the only thing that really matters is your team winning. So, that's what we want to accomplish in that environment.
Q: You obviously talked about not practicing, and then remember they obviously limited you with carries. Right first game last year? I think the first two, maybe. Something like that. How much more ready do you feel like you're able to hit the ground running this year? Like from the get-go, from Week 1, you will be full bore, full go, and everything.
A: I'm ready. I'm ready to go. But right now, like I said, I haven't had that conversation with Dabs yet, but my mindset is to get ready, get focused on playing the New York Jets, and that's the only thing I can control.