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Giants RB Saquon Barkley won't use knee injury as 'crutch' for performance

Media narratives in the Big Apple take on lives of their own like nowhere else, and coaches or athletes who try to control them often find it a futile exercise. Typically, however, the effort is to dim the spotlight.

But after an uninspiring performance in the New York Giants' opening loss to the Broncos, running back Saquon Barkley, instead, wants it brighter.

"I don't want the theme to be, 'Oh, the run game's not going 'cause Saquon's knee. He's still getting right back from the knee,'" Barkley said, per the New York Daily News. "That's not the mindset I'm gonna have. I'm not gonna use that as a crutch. The gig is up. I'm back on the field."

Coming off knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered last September, Barkley rushed 10 times for just 26 yards Sunday. And although he lost his footing on more than one occasion, the quickness and strength that helped him earn a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie in 2018 appeared to be back, if the results weren't. He played in roughly half of the Giants' offensive snaps as the coaching staff seeks to ease his transition back to a full-time starter's workload. Barkley, for his part, came out of the game feeling fine and said he's ready for more of a role.

"Hopefully week by week, my knee keeps responding properly and my rep count keeps going," Barkley said. "The carries I do get, (it's time to) to get this run game going. Because once we get it going, I think we could be a very good offense."

With the Giants' rushing attack all but non-existent in Week 1, the next challenge for Barkley, as well as the Giants offensive line, is a big one. On a short practice week, they'll travel to face the Washington Football Team -- airing exclusively Thursday night on NFL Network -- against one of the NFL's most talented defensive lines.

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