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Sources: Barkley unlikely to play vs. Patriots

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is unlikely to play Thursday night against the New England Patriots despite returning to practice late last week, multiple sources told ESPN. He had been eyeing this week’s contest as a potential return date.

There’s also a real chance the Giants will be without tight end Evan Engram, who is dealing with a sprained MCL and faces a challenge to be healthy enough to face New England, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Engram is on pace for a career year with 33 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Barkley has been dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered Sept. 22 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is slated to practice again later Tuesday but is not expected to be cleared medically in time to handle the rigors of game action yet.

Coach Pat Shurmur said Monday that the Giants would do what is best for the team and Barkley would return when he’s able to play at a high level and protect himself. It’s almost certainly not going to happen Thursday. Sitting Barkley against the undefeated Patriots gives him another 10 days to get cleared for their Week 7 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.6

Not having Barkley available Thursday leaves the Giants (2-3) short-handed against the league’s top-ranked defense. Running back Wayne Gallman and wide receiver Sterling Shepard also are going to miss Thursday night’s game. Both have concussions.

Undrafted rookie running back Jon Hilliman and fullback Elijhaa Penny, a converted tailback, are expected to shoulder the load without Barkley and Gallman. Austin Walter also is likely to be elevated from the practice squad. An outside alternative would be difficult on such short notice.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The original reported timeline for Barkley was four to eight weeks. It has been 16 days since the injury.

It appeared Barkley was going to beat the timeline when he returned to the practice field early last week and began running and cutting at near full speed on a side field with a trainer. He improved as the week progressed and even sneaked in some scout team work on Friday.

Barkley was listed as a limited participant in Monday’s projected practice report with the Giants on a short week.

“He’s doing great,” Shurmur said Monday, before adding that Barkley was closer to returning than he was last week.

Shurmur said there was a possibility that Barkley could return against the Patriots. It just seems highly unlikely. Barkley would have to be cleared by doctors, and the long-term risk in this case outweighs the short-term reward.