Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: You're not on the injury report at all, which is good news, I'm sure. Any reason why you would see your workload not being back to what it was previously?
A: No. I don't think so. Nope.
Q: Do you feel a lot different than you did (during) the middle of last week? Or do you feel the same?
A: I definitely feel a lot better, being able to go out there and practice and get reps. I feel pretty good. That's really it.
Q: I know that wasn't really the point of it at all, but did getting the break and getting the rest on Sunday – was it almost like a little bit of half a bye, at least?
A: (Laughs) I never thought about it that way. I mean, I guess I didn't take the banging I would in a normal game. But I feel good this week; I had a really good practice yesterday. I feel like I had a pretty good practice today, not just for myself but the team. So, just excited about this week.
Q: You've had some of your best games at their place. (Is there) anything to that?
A: You can't read too much into that. It's a new game; it's a new season. (It's a) new opportunity. I'm just really excited for the opportunity. We have a great opportunity in front of us and go out there and try to capitalize on it.
Q: Does this feel like the biggest game of your career?
A: I wouldn't say that. Obviously, I understand the magnitude of the game and understand that it's a big game. It's a divisional opponent, a primetime game. I do understand that. But for me, I guess I kind of just go back to my Penn State days. Something that (Penn State Head) Coach (James) Franklin kind of taught us when I was 18 years old is that 'It's the biggest game because it's the next game – next opportunity.' So, I kind of just take that with me, no matter what. If we're playing in December and playing 7-5-1 versus 7-5-1, or if we're both 3-12. It's still an opportunity. It's another chance you get to play the game you love, so that's why it's a big game.
Q: Did it always feel that way on the field, though? Did a bowl game feel the same as a regular (season game)?
A: It depends on who you're talking to. For me, I love football. I love the game of football. So, for me, every game feels the same. Obviously, if you're playing a bowl game or a Big 10 championship or you're playing a playoff, obviously, when you win, you get a different type of trophy or you advance into the playoffs (more so) than a regular season game. But for me, I love the game of football. It's something that I'm passionate about; I love doing it. I'm just happy to get the opportunity. We get to do it against a divisional opponent – against a team that we tied against. So, there's still a sour taste in our mouth and their mouth, too. And we get to settle it out on primetime football.
Q: It's been a few years since this franchise has had meaningful games in late December. What's the vibe been like in the building this week?
A: The same. The vibe is the same. Coming into work, the energy's high. That's really it. A lot of people keep saying that we haven't had meaningful games in December, which is true. But the year I tore my knee (2020), they had to beat Dallas to get into the playoffs. They did that. The way the events happened over there when they played when Washington played Philly. But that was like a big game where you have to win to give yourself an opportunity to play in the playoffs. Obviously, I hated watching it on the couch. But they got it done, too. DJ (Daniel Jones) was the quarterback there, too. So, that's kind of been the theme, 'Oh, you guys haven't been in these types of games before.' But it's like two, three years ago, we were in a type of game like this.
Q: Has that game come up at all this week? Has that been talked about in here at all this week? Like 'Hey nobody thinks we've played in a big game.'
A: Oh, no. That's just coming from me. I just thought about it. I've heard that before. It wasn't a shot at you, but it was just kind of responding to (a previous) question: two years ago, three years ago – whenever what was – they were in a game like this. I say they because I was on the couch. But just playing football is fun. You get a primetime game in Washington against a divisional opponent who's a heck of a team. So, that's really what it is to me.
Q: You get to be part of it this time.
A: I do get to be part of it.
Q: So, what's your perspective on that?
A: My perspective on that is 'try to make a change. Try to be helpful. Try to make plays.' That's where I feel like I've got to get back to. I feel like I've been lacking the last couple of weeks – being the guy, and making explosive plays, especially when it matters most. The only thing I can do there is come here and practice, try to have the best practice I can have. And then when the games come, when the opportunity presents itself, got to capitalize on it.
Q: Why do you say that? Why do you say you think you've been lacking? Is it being banged up?
A: No, not because of being banged up. It's just the truth. I haven't had a big run in a long time. The last time, I guess, was against Washington. It was over 20 (yards). The last couple of weeks, the run game has been – I don't want to say non-existent. But they've been doing a really good job of stopping the run game or necessarily, stopping me. Obviously, that's a focal point. And that's going to be a focal point again this week. But just got to continue to get back to that mentality of knowing that teams are going to try to stop us, but if I can get going, it's going to help the team and it's going to help put us in a position to win.
Q: You said a little while back that there was a play where, I think it was in the first Dallas game, where you made a cut and you said, 'Oh, that's me. That feels like the guy – before the surgery guy.' Do you feel as good now as you did at that time? And how important is it for you to finish these four games strong for a variety of reasons?
A: It's important to finish four games strong just because, like I said, loving the game and wanting to be out there for my teammates. And how I feel, (how) my body feels, I feel pretty good. I feel like, I guess, I don't feel any better or any worse than anyone else who's in Week 15. I feel the same way. But I put a lot of work into my body – spend a lot of money on my body – and I'm just happy. For the last couple of years, I haven't been this healthy in December. So, I'm healthy. And I just want to go out there and try to make a difference for my team.
Q: What's it like dealing with that front – that defensive front – especially (Commanders defensive tackles Daron) Payne and (Johnathan) Allen, obviously?
A: They're extremely good. There's nothing those two can't do. Obviously, (Commanders defensive end Montez) Sweat, too. I think they got another monster coming back this week with (Commanders defensive end Chase) Young. Obviously, I don't know how many plays or pitch count or play count, whatever it's going to be. But it's kind of like I said last week when you're going against (Eagles defensive end Brandon) Graham and (Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher) Cox: You love going against them because you respect their game, and you know what they're able to bring to the table. But at the same time, you hate going against them. It's a little different when that gap is open, and you hit it. And Payne sticks his arm out, and you run into a brick wall. But we know how talented those guys are, but we know how talented we are, too. Just got to continue to get back to trusting the system and really getting the run game going. I think it will be a confidence builder, too, if you can get the run game going against guys like that.
Q: Did (head coach Brian) Daboll offer you a rest day yesterday?
A: No, I was out there (Laughs). I had like my best practice to be completely honest.
Q: Yesterday was your best practice?
A: To be honest.
Q: I just meant did he say, 'Hey. I'm giving some guy's rest if you want one,'?
A: No. I mean, there's a time and a place for it. Everybody throughout the season, there are vet days. And sometimes, some guys need it. And I guess alluding back to (a previous) question (that) asked me how my body feels, and I said, 'I feel pretty good.'
Q: We don't usually see those highlights from practice.
A: But I was out there. It felt good.
Q: You guys have lost 11 straight primetime games. What do you think when I say that?
A: That's a crazy stat. We lost 11 straight, dang (Laughs). I really don't know what to say to that. It sucks, I guess. But guess what? We get an opportunity to change that. And I guess those 11 games we lost; we weren't as successful as we were previously. We're a successful team this year. We're a different team this year than we were in the past. We're getting that opportunity in another primetime game to go show that, and I feel like if we continue to trust each other, lean on each other, get that power and belief back, go out there, play for each other, anything can happen, right?
Q: I asked you that because this is the time where everyone else in the league is kind of watching you guys. Do you guys almost need to win those games for everyone else to realize that you guys are good or to see that you're a winning team.
A: It doesn't really matter. I think that's kind of more for the outside view. To be completely honest, if you're playing on Sunday, if you're playing on Saturday, playing in MetLife, playing in Washington, or playing on the parking lot, it really doesn't matter. At the end of the day for us, it's like we got to win this game because it's the next opportunity – the next game for us against a divisional opponent. So, we got to go out there and capitalize on it. But whether it's primetime or not, whether the world's watching or not, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't hurt; don't get me wrong. It's primetime. I'm all about the NFL and the ratings and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, what really matters is 'Let's go out there and try to get a win,' whether it's one o'clock, 12 o'clock, four o'clock, three o'clock, five o'clock, six o'clock.