Of course, Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley are quite familiar with one another. After all, they’ve been teammates for the past three years and they are embarking on the 2022 season, if not on borrowed time, certainly with no time to lose. They are both entering the final year of their contracts. The better Jones does at quarterback, the greater the chance Barkley will return to his dynamic rookie form. The better Barkley runs and catches the ball at running back, the more free and easy Jones will feel and perform in the pocket.
“Not saying it’s pressure for me to do this and do that,” Barkley said Friday. “I know what I can be. I know what I’m capable of doing. If I’m able to go out there and do the things that I’m capable of doing, it’s going to make life a lot easier — not only on Daniel, but I feel like on everyone.
“If we all go out there, if we all go out there and do what we are capable of doing, it’s going to make life easier for every single one of us. We just got to come in every single day, continue to get the playbook down and continue to work. All the work that we put in will pay off later on.”
It is a brand-new offense for both players and, as the quarterback, it is especially challenging for Jones as he studies and tries to absorb the nuances of the system brought to the Giants by head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. They are going to need time to make it work.
In the past, Jones was mostly a bystander in the preseason, but he might have to actually get on the field and work with the starting offense in at least two of the three exhibition games. There are only so many opportunities for Jones to see what he can do against a live defense that is wearing something other than the Giants’ colors. One such occasion came Friday night in a scrimmage at MetLife Stadium as part of the Fan Fest event. There will be the three preseason games and the joint practice with the Jets. Live reps will be needed for Jones to feel prepared for the Sept. 11 season opener at Tennessee.
“I’m excited for those opportunities,” Jones said. “There’s a lot we need to continue to work on and keep making progress on. The preseason’s an opportunity to do that and a game situation gives you an opportunity to prepare for a game — obviously it’s not the same level of game-planning, but we will prepare for that and go out and try to execute in a live situation.”
It is unlikely Daboll will expose Barkley to an abundance of physical contact. Any running back needs to get hit a few times in the summer, but Barkley is finally healthy now and Daboll mentioned this week how explosive his No. 1 back looks on the practice field.
“I do whatever coach asks me to do,” Barkley said. “That’s just how you be a leader and be a team player within practices, within preseason games, within joint practices. Just work on your craft. Get better every single day, get the conditioning down, get your body mentally and physically ready for a 17-game season.”
Jones has rarely taken the field for a full game with the real Saquon Barkley. Jones’ first career start, Week 3 of 2019 at Tampa Bay, was the game in which Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half. He missed the next three games and was never right even after he returned. The next season, Barkley went down and out in Week 2 to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. In 2021, Barkley was just rounding into form by Week 5 when he stepped wrong at Dallas, his ankle ballooned up and he missed the next four games.
This summer, Barkley is full healthy at long last.
“Yeah, it’s been fun to watch him work,” Jones said. “Obviously, we’ve been training a lot together this offseason. How dedicated he is to making sure he’s ready to roll come this time of year, I haven’t been surprised by how he’s looked to start camp. I’m excited to work with him. He brings a lot to our offense from obviously running the ball and using him in space to make plays. He’s an explosive player, a smart player and a guy that works really hard. From a quarterback’s perspective that’s always fun to work with.”
The fun Barkley has this season will benefit Jones, and vice versa.
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