BARKLEY LOOKS FOR A FRESH START FOR THE GIANTS
Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard was selected in the second round (40th pick overall) of the NFL Draft in 2016.
With the departure of quarterback Eli Manning and long-snapper Zak DeOssie after the 2019 season, the 27-year-old is now the longest tenured Giant on the roster.
When your team posts a record of 12-36 over three consecutive regular season, changes are bound to happen.
Saquon Barkley, the Giants standout running back is entering his third year. He is now one of the locker room veterans.
Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards as a rookie and 1,003 yards in 2019 to become the first player in Giants history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.Big Blue has a rich history that includes five Super Bowl appearances producing four Lombardi trophies.
Two of those titles came with Manning under center. With such a poor record over the last few seasons, it is important remember how great this franchise has been over the years as new head coach Joe Judge tries to reverse the losing.Barkley was asked if he feels like starting over with this franchise with all the new guys.
“Yeah, I would definitely say it’s a fresh new start,” Barkley said during a video conference. “I heard you guys talking with Shep earlier about history. I do think we are doing a great job of, especially when we are in zoom meetings, understanding the history, understanding the guys before us.
“There is a tradition here," he continued. "Like you said, Shep is the longest tenured Giant and he has only been in the league for five to six years, I guess. It’s a fresh new start, we are learning every single day, on the offensive side and on the defensive side. Learning a new scheme and system and trying to focus on the little things to get better every single day. Capitalize on the things we are able to do."
Barkley was asked when he studies the history of the Giants, is it with an emphasis that you as a team have to create the next chapter in the history?
“I wouldn’t say there’s an emphasis of we have to create the next chapter,” He said. “You have to understand your history and what we’re known for. The Giants are known for being tough, physical and doing the little things right. That’s something that Coach Judge and all the coaches have made a focal point for us in the short time that we have been here. That’s what we try to attack every single day and try to get better every single day.”
This season will also be a new start at quarterback. Even though rookie Daniel Jones started 12 of the 16 games in 2019, it still wasn't his team while Manning was still on the roster.Going into camp, it's Jones' team.
Barkley was asked what the biggest area of growth he has seen with Jones compared to a year ago and is he excited to see what the second years quarterback can do now that no one is looking over his shoulder.
“Definitely excited for DJ. We definitely got a lot closer from this point where we are from him being a rookie to us actually hanging out, working out together and stuff,” Barkley said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s a heck of a player, he’s very talented. You just grow, not just saying system-wise but as a player. Being more comfortable from your rookie year to your second year.
"I know for myself from my first year to my second year how much more comfortable I was just being in the locker room and talking with the guys. That’s where you are going to grow, and you are going to continue to see him grow in that area. He’s a talented player and hard worker and I’m really excited to see what he is going to do this year.”
Since he's been here, the Giants have struggled. Barkley was asked how anxious he is to have a winning season at this level. “That’s the motive,” Barkley said. “That’s why we come in every single day and why we work every single day, to get better every single day, one percent better. Yes, do we want to have a winning record? Yes, that’s every team. I’m a big believer, I know what we are getting taught and what’s going on now, that’s not going to happen if we don’t take care of the little things. I want that and if I’m hungry for that, which I am, I have to focus on today. Right now, after this meeting, get some nutrition and go into meetings and try and learn and get better in the system and this offense.”One day at a time. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii