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NFL: Broncos prep for Saquon Barkley’s return at Giants

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The availability of running back Saquon Barkley remains a mystery as the New York Giants prepare to host the Denver Broncos on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Barkley is working his way back from a torn ACL sustained in Week 2 of last season. As soon as Barkley went down, so did the hopes of the Giants as they limped to a 1-7 start before finishing with a 6-10 record.

Barkley is presumably on track to return. He participated in contact drills last week and a padded practice Wednesday. While the signs appear promising, Giants coach Joe Judge hasn’t given his star running back the green light for Sunday’s game.

“In large degree what I want to see is how he responds to some contact,” Judge said of Barkley. “… And I want to see how he puts together three straight days of work as well. There’s a big part in just watching how players’ bodies respond.

“He’s no different than a lot of other guys we have right now coming off of injury that we’re gonna have to see over these next three days in terms of what they can handle by load and how their body is going to respond on Sunday.”

Broncos coach Vic Fangio said he expects Barkley — the 2018 Offensive Player of the Year — to suit up on Sunday and be the driving force of the offense.

“We’re under the assumption that he will play. He’s a hell of a player,” Fangio said of Barkley, who rewarded the Giants for selecting him with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft by recording 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns during his rookie season.

Barkley isn’t the only member of the Giants who was limited on Wednesday.

First-round rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and big-ticket additions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring), tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (ankle) are nursing injuries.

Tight end Evan Engram (calf) did not practice on Wednesday and is trending toward sitting out not only the season opener but perhaps even the Giants’ Week 2 game against the Washington Football Team next Thursday.

While Daniel Jones prepares for his third season under center with the Giants, the Broncos are turning to offseason acquisition Teddy Bridgewater for the opener. Bridgewater, whom the Broncos acquired for a sixth-round pick ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, will become the fifth different quarterback to start a season for the club since its Super Bowl 50 campaign.

The quarterback carousel hasn’t paid dividends for the Broncos, who lost five of their last six games to finish with a 5-11 record in 2020.

“You come to training camp and you sense that guys have a sense of urgency,” Bridgewater said. “They want to change the narrative around here, and we have an opportunity to do that this coming Sunday.”

An efficient Bridgewater will look to feed wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, who will wear a brace on his left knee after sustaining a torn ACL last September.

Former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller is all systems go after missing last season with an ankle injury. He joins Pro Bowl selection Bradley Chubb in providing a fearsome presence that likely will keep the members of the Giants’ offensive line on alert.

“Definitely a dominant group at outside linebacker,” Giants offensive tackle Andrew Thomas said of Chubb and Miller. “Both very talented. We’ll have to be on our A game to block them.”

Chubb did not practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury and his status is in doubt. Tight end Noah Fant (leg) was able to participate in Wednesday’s session but was listed as limited.

–Field Level Media

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