Giants rookie RB Saquon Barkley, whom GM Dave Gettleman said shortly after drafting No. 2 overall in April was "touched by the hand of God," departed practice early Monday with a mild left hamstring strain.
"Think he's all right, we'll find out," new Giants coach Pat Shurmur told reporters shortly after practice. He later issued an updated statement, confirming the injury was a strain and saying the Giants will "be smart" with their prized rookie.
Barkley, the former Penn State star and fourth-leading vote-getter in last year's Heisman race, reportedly had his leg briefly wrapped in ice shortly after catching a deep pass off a wheel route from fellow rookie Kyle Lauletta. Per Art Stapleton of northjersey.com, Barkley shed the ice soon thereafter and walked off the practice field with teammates.
However, only three days after the Giants' division rival lost its future foundation back Derrius Guice to a torn ACL that was initially reported as minor, Big Blue fans surely held their breath as they awaited further information on Barkley. His breathtaking speed and suddeness became evident at the NFL level exactly one play into his preseason debut. And it's been evident for several years now to anyone who watches Giants football that a functional ground game, never mind one with the home-run hitting upside Barkley provides, is desperately needed.
Here's to hoping clubs with massive investments in a running back, particularly the one that bypassed three potential future franchise signal-callers to land theirs, somehow manages to limit, if not completely remove, their preseason exposure for roughly the next month. And in the Giants' case, they appear to have gotten lucky this time with Barkley. Perhaps he truly was touched by the hand of God.