According to Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan, the combination of playing the Eagles and Eli Manning
returning at quarterback for the New York Giants might be what gets Saquon Barkley
a much-sought 100-yard game rushing.
The NFL offensive rookie of the year last season, Barkley has not rushed for 100 yards since the first two games this year.
He sustained a high ankle sprain before halftime the following week, and he has struggled to return to form after sitting out three games.
Barkley’s best game since his return on Oct. 20 came last weekend when he gained 83 yards on 19 carries in a 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium. The 22-year-old from Penn State showed flashes of being the guy who finished second in the league in rushing with 1,307 yards as a rookie.
That bodes well for Barkley and the Giants (2-10) heading into Monday night’s game in Philadelphia against the Eagles (5-7), who are only a game out of first place in the NFC East despite three straight losses.
Barkley had two of his best games last season against the Eagles. He rushed for 130 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown, in a 34-13 loss at home in October. He gained 101 yards on 13 carries in a 25-22 setback in Philadelphia in November, scoring on a 51-yard run and catching a 13-yard TD pass.
Barkley said he was in a groove in the first game, while in the second, the running game was better overall but the team was done in by turnovers.
“You can go back and watch the film on it, which I did, and see the success that I was able to have against them and what I wasn’t able to have against them, but it’s a new year,” Barkley said Thursday after practice. “They’re going to attack it different. I’ll just try to have more success this year and do whatever I can to help my team win
Having Manning back might help the run game. Manning opened the season as the starter and Barkley topped 100 yards against Dallas and Buffalo. Rookie Daniel Jones
replaced Manning as the starter in Week 3 and Barkley been slowed by his ankle problem.
Now Jones has a sprained right ankle and the 38-year-old Manning is returning.
“Eli, he’s a legend. He’s a Hall of Famer,” Barkley said of the two-time Super Bowl MVP. “He just sees the field so well. He understands the game so well, he’s been doing it for a very long time and it’s what you expect from Eli. Obviously, I love the way he handled the situation when D.J. ended up being the starting quarterback, the way he operated in practice, the way he operated in the building was the same Eli that we know.”
Barkley refused to compare the slow-footed Manning and the more mobile Jones.
“But Eli, like I said, like you said, he’s seen every defense, so it’s like secondhand to him,” Barkley said. “He’s going to be able to help put us in positions to succeed, and I think D.J. has been doing a great job of that, too. So, like I said, I’m just happy for Eli to get an opportunity.”
The Eagles don’t give up much rushing. They are allowing an average of 91 yards, trailing only the Jets, Buccaneers and Saints in run defense. Two opponents have rushed for 100 yards: Ezekiel Elliott
(111) of the Cowboys and Rashaad Penny
(129) of the Seahawks. ...
Meanwhile, Golden Tate
was cleared from the concussion protocol and will play against the Eagles.
Tate, who is second on the Giants with four receiving touchdowns, missed last week's loss to the Green Bay Packers. He is set to play his first game with Manning after missing the first four weeks of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Tate returns just in time to face his former team. He was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Philadelphia Eagles midway through last season. He signed with the Giants this offseason as a free agent after catching the game-winning touchdown in a playoff win for the Eagles earlier this year.
The veteran receiver has been productive in his seven games with the Giants. Tate has 36 catches for 450 yards and four touchdowns.
The Eagles have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the slot, so the timing of Tate's return might not be all that fortuitous.
Also on the injury front. ... Evan Engram
(sprained foot) and Rhett Ellison
(concussion) were ruled out on Saturday. It was a bit of a surprise for Engram, who expected to return from a three-game absence.
With Engram and Ellison out, Kaden Smith
will remain the receiving option of choice here.
Smith was targeted eight times and paced the Giants with six receptions and 70 receiving yards last Sunday. As ESPN's Mike Clay notes, Smith was targeted six times in Week 12, and he has been on the field for 94 percent of the offensive snaps since the team's Week 11 bye.
The sixth-round rookie will revert to the bench once Engram returns, but in the meantime, Smith is seeing enough volume to make him a solid TE2.
That said, Clay doesn't consider him a great streaming option against the Eagles, but keep him on your radar in case Engram misses more time than expected.