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Barkley already close to return

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Saquon Barkley picked up the pace in rehabilitating his sprained right ankle but he gave no hint when he will play for the New York Giants.

Barkley, who sustained a high ankle sprain against Tampa Bay on Sept. 15, worked out with trainers for the second straight day on Thursday and increased his workload.

However, he did not practice with the team for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings (2-2). It’s an indication he won’t play. Giants coach Pat Shurmur refused to rule out Barkley for Sunday’s game.

Third-year pro Wayne Gallman started in the 24-3 win over Washington on Sunday. He had a career-best 118 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns.

While Gallman played well, Barkley is one of the NFL’s most dynamic backs. He was the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year when ran for 1,307 yards, caught 91 passes and scored 15 touchdowns.

“It felt good,” Barkley said in the locker room after his workout. “I got to open up and run full speed and cut a little bit more. Like I said, just focused on the Vikings and focusing on tomorrow and attacking tomorrow. It’s the last day on the field we technically have to prepare for a very great team and try to find a way to get three in a row. We have a good thing going and we have to continue to keep it going.”

Barkley said any decision on playing would be made by the team and its trainers.

“I’ll just continue to listen to them, have faith in them, and continue to do what I can to help my team win games whenever I’m able to come back,” Barkley said.

Before being hurt late in the first half of the third game, Barkley had 237 yards rushing, seventh in the NFC and 16th overall.

Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards is getting his team ready to stop whoever plays halfback for the Giants.

“We saw him in the first two games, and then when he unfortunately got hurt,” Edwards said of Barkley. “But we’ve looked at both backs and the way that they’re using them. We have to be prepared for both at the end of the day.”

Seahawks hold off Rams

SEATTLE — Russell Wilson threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Carson on fourth-and-goal with 2:28 remaining to give Seattle the lead, Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard field goal with 11 seconds left and the Seahawks held on for a wild 30-29 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.

Jared Goff and the Rams (3-2) appeared on the verge of a victory after driving into field-goal range in the final 90 seconds. Zuerlein hit three field goals earlier, but this attempt slipped wide right and gave Seattle (4-1) a win it needed against its NFC West foe after losing six of the past eight to the Rams.

Wilson was 17 of 23 for 268 and four touchdowns. He was at his best, whether it was his throws from the pocket or when he was forced to improvise. It was one stunning play after another from Seattle’s star, continuing the best start to a season in his career.

Elsewhere:

n Sam Darnold’s swollen spleen has taken center stage for the New York Jets.

The 22-year-old quarterback is scheduled to have blood tests and an ultrasound Friday to determine if the enlarged organ has returned to normal size — or close to it — and allow Darnold to play in a game for the first time since the season opener.

Darnold, the Jets and their fans are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping he gets good news from the doctors.

“It’s a tough thing because you want to stay safe,” Darnold said Thursday. “I want to make sure that I’m safe out there, and that, you know, I’m not going to die.”

Darnold managed a smile while saying that, but he fully understands the seriousness of the situation.

He was diagnosed with mononucleosis on Sept. 11 — three days after the season opener — and has been gradually working his way back to the field. Darnold was cleared for non-contact activity on Monday, and has been practicing as if he’ll start Sunday at Philadelphia. But, it will all depend on whether the swelling in his spleen has dissipated enough to get him medical clearance to play.

“For me, sitting back and watching the team play and not having anything to do with the win or the loss is not a good feeling for me,” Darnold said. “So, if there’s one thing that I’ve realized throughout this time sitting down is that it’s a privilege to play this game. And so, I’m just excited to get back out there whenever it is. For me, it’s sooner rather than later you, is my mindset.:

n Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has missed his sixth consecutive practice.

Ramsey sat out practice Thursday because of an apparent back injury that caused him to miss last week’s victory at Denver. It was the first game Ramsey has missed in his four-year NFL career.

Ramsey refused to comment when approached in the locker room after practice.

Team owner Shad Khan told The Associated Press Wednesday that he has no plans to part ways with Ramsey , who requested a trade Sept. 15 following a heated argument with coach Doug Marrone on the sideline and a much-less-public exchange with personnel chief Tom Coughlin outside the visiting locker room in Houston.

Khan said “the best thing is to have him be part of the team.”

n The Patriots have signed veteran kicker Mike Nugent to fill the spot created after Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve.

Nugent’s signing was announced Thursday. The 37-year-old was drafted by the Jets in 2005, spending four seasons in New York. He’s also played for Arizona, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas and Oakland.

He has appeared in 164 regular-season games, converting 81 percent of his field-goal attempts (253 of 311) and 363 of 377 extra points.

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