Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard: Sitting out regular-season game an option

The New York Giants practiced Thursday, but two of the franchise's more prominent players aren't ruling out future protests in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by Kenosha (Wisconsin) police.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Sterling Shepard told reporters the team has not ruled out potentially sitting out a regular-season game, following in the footsteps of players from the NBA, WNBA and other professional sports leagues Wednesday. The NBA and WNBA announced Thursday that the day's games also would be postponed as players protest the latest shooting of a Black person by police in the U.S.

Barkley said any future decision would be discussed within the team leadership group and those conversations would remain between the players.

"I can't really just go and speak on behalf of the whole league," Barkley said, "but for us, that's something that we're going to talk about within our groups, within our team. What's talked about in meetings, in players' meetings, stays in players' meetings.

"Going on with what the NBA did, I definitely commend them for doing that. The WNBA, the ladies, did it, too. I want to commend them for standing up, using their platform and using their voice. But for us to say, the Giants and the NFL, that's the stuff that's part of our discussions going on. We've been given an opportunity for our leadership group and to be able to talk to the team and try to figure out things we can do to try to help."

Shepard's comments mirrored Barkley's.

"As far as what we're going to do and the steps we're going to take next, that's something that we're in discussion about," Shepard said. "It's sad that we have to take the time away from football and prepare for a season that is coming up here pretty soon to talk about these things, another senseless shooting that's happened. It's sad that it has to be that way. But yeah, as far as what we're going to do next, I'm going to talk to my teammates and the leadership group and the coaches and we're going to come up with a plan."

A number of NFL teams canceled practice and team activities Thursday, using the day to reflect on the currents events in the country and to raise awareness to social injustice and police brutality.

"I saw a lot of teams cancelled practice," Barkley said. "We had that conversation. We felt that we wanted to be able to continue to go out there and practice if we were all in the right mind space, which we all agreed that we were. Obviously, we've been talking. We're going to come up with something that we want to be able to do. Hopefully, it's soon."

Giants coach Joe Judge said he would not get into hypotheticals on if Friday's scrimmage could be canceled.

"Right now, we're planning on having the scrimmage tomorrow," Judge said. "We'll continue the conversations with our team later on and we'll see where that takes us."

Barkley said Judge and the Giants' coaching staff have done a good job of supporting the players through this week.

"Coach Judge has been doing a really great job," Barkley said. "All the coaches have been doing a really great job of hearing us, listening us out and being on board with us."

The Giants open the regular season Sept. 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.

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