Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is blown away by the amount of injuries he’s seen during his first season in New York.
“It’s just one of those years where you just walk around shaking your head like, ‘I can’t believe this,’ Martindale said Thursday. “Because you’re playing so many different guys at different spots with the injuries that we’ve had.”
Thursday’s new injury hit the offense: running back Saquon Barkley popped up as limited in practice with a neck injury.
It’s Barkley’s first appearance on the Giants’ official injury report since mid-October, when he was limited on Oct. 19 and 20 with a right shoulder injury leading into a road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He is expected to play Sunday when the Giants (7-4-1) host the Philadelphia Eagles (11-1), but it may help explain his recent nosedive in production, including his seven carries for three yards in last Sunday’s second half and overtime against Washington.
Barkley spoke to the media on Thursday before he was added to the injury report.
When he was asked how he was feeling physically, Barkley said: “I feel like it’s Week 14 in the season no matter if I had 200 touches or 10 touches. It’s a grind. It’s the wear and tear of the mind, the body. That’s the nature of the NFL but also the beauty of it.”
Barkley said he has heard the critics of his recent play.
“I know people are saying I’m slowing down,” he said. “I really don’t see it like that. I think we’ve played some tough teams. I think it’s been November, December football and we’ve been playing meaningful games, going against some really good teams and they’ve been doing a really good job.
“Now it’s on my side,” he added. “Where I’ve got to continue to reflect on myself and see what I can do better and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.”
In fairness to Barkley, though, he hasn’t consistently been running lately like he’s fully healthy.
He stepped out of bounds on one run against the Commanders rather than fighting for a couple more yards and turned his body almost as if to avoid contact on the right shoulder that he originally injured on Oct. 9 in London against the Green Bay Packers.
Interestingly, he isn’t listed with a shoulder injury. The Giants are calling it a neck ailment, the same designation the team has given to both defensive tackle Leonard Williams and left guard Josh Ezeudu, who have been sitting out practices.
So it goes for one of the NFL’s annually most injured teams, which was hit with a rash of sprained MCLs and torn ACLs this year, too.
The Giants have missed a total of 191 player games this season due to injuries and health protocols, per ManGamesLost.com, which is tied for third-most in the NFL with the Denver Broncos. Only the Tennessee Titans (204) and New Orleans Saints (203) have missed more.
From a football standpoint, the Giants’ offensive line hasn’t been run-blocking as well recently, either, which hasn’t helped the cause. And Barkley’s numbers have plummeted.
He has exceeded 65 rushing yards in only one of the last five games. And he is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry during the Giants’ 1-3-1 stretch, including 2.7 yards per rush in their three recent losses and the tie.
Starting left guard Ben Bredeson (knee) may come off injured reserve on Sunday, which would help. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Giants’ run game mostly has fallen off a cliff since he’s been out.
Still, if Barkley’s injury limits his availability or usage and hampers his production, that would be a problem not just for Sunday’s game but for the Giants’ pivotal Week 15 Sunday Night game at Washington, and for their push to a playoff berth that seems more tenuous by the day.
GIANTS INJURY REPORT
Did not participate: CB Adoree Jackson (knee), DL Williams (neck), LG Ezeudu (neck), LG Shane Lemieux (toe). Limited: RB Barkley (neck), CB Nick McCloud (hamstring), CB Darnay Holmes (shoulder), WR Richie James (knee), DL Henry Mondeaux (knee).
EAGLES INJURY REPORT
Did not participate: LB Shaun Bradley (hamstring). Limited: WR Quez Watkins (shoulder), LB Kyzir White (ankle). The Eagles also rested 10 healthy veterans.