Barkley getting ready to cap outstanding rookie season
RUTHERFORD, N.J. — While the NFL rushing title might be a little out of reach heading into the final week of the regular season, halfback Saquon Barkley is probably going to end his rookie season with the New York Giants with his share of records.
The No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft has one league record within reach, can join a very select group of players with his yards from scrimmage total, and he can add to his windfall of Giants records.
“He’s one of those rare guys,” said Dallas coach Jason Garrett, whose NFC East champion Cowboys (9-6) will face Barkley and the Giants (5-10) on Sunday at MetLife Stadium
“We watched the whole season and he just continues to show up, he is a great football player, and I think everybody felt that way about him coming out of school,” Garrett added. “He was such a dominant player at Penn State and he’s just continued that. The challenge is, he beats you so many different ways. He can run the ball inside, he can bounce it and win on the edges, he’s a really good pass receiver, he’s great run-after-catch, he’s physical, he’s hard to bring down with one guy but he’s got quickness and explosiveness, acceleration and speed.”
Barkley’s statistics are impressive. He has rushed for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns, caught a team-high 87 passes for 688 yards and four touchdowns, and accumulated 1,886 yards from scrimmage.
The 21-year-old running back enters the week third in the league in rushing. He is 236 yards behind Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys and 183 behind Todd Gurley of the Rams.
Barkley needs two receptions to break Reggie Bush’s NFL mark (88) for rookie running backs, set in 2006. He needs 114 yards from scrimmage to join Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.
He has already broken the team’s rookie record for yards rushing, needs 2 yards to become the fourth Giant with 1,200 yards rushing, and one rushing TD to set the team record, which he now shares with Bill Paschal (1943).
“Not really worried about the records,” Barkley said Thursday. “I care less if I get to 2,000 or if I get the two receptions. I think it’ll be great, it’ll be special for not only myself, but for the team. It would be more special if we get a win.”
Not winning the majority of games has been an adjustment for Barkley.
“I learned that you’re going to be tested in the NFL,” he said. “There’s going to be highs, there’s going to be lows. You got to stay poised through it all. No matter what, you got to come in and you got to continue to work, continue to have that mindset to get better every single day.”
Less than a month ago, Barkley talked about challenging for a rushing title. The dream went out the window the past two games as Tennessee and Indianapolis held him to a combined 74 yards rushing.
With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. out of the lineup with a quad injury, it allowed the Titans and Colts to load the box many times and limit Barkley. New York’s offensive line also has been spotty.
Barkley raised a few eyebrows momentarily when he said refused to say the rushing title was out of reach.
“You never know,” he said laughing. “I’m just kidding, but honestly, you never know. I’m not all about winning rushing titles, or ‘Me, Me, Me,’ but I do believe that I want to be a great player in this league, and I want to go down as one of the best to play in this league, and that’s something you got to do. If you look at all the great running backs, they at least got one (rushing title).”
Barkley said his goal Sunday is to compete for his teammates and win. He won’t wait long to get back to work.
“Figure out how I can go from doing what I did in my rookie year, and even elevate it to another level,” he said.
That would be a pretty good year, too.