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New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley begins journey to become next Adrian Peterson

The surgery on New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley’s right knee came on Friday, 40 days after it gave out while he was trying to break a tackle in a game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 20. It was considered a success with the ACL being reconstructed and meniscus repaired.

It was the first step in a comeback Barkley hopes will get him back into the conversation surrounding the best running backs in football. And a comeback that perhaps can make him the next Adrian Peterson, in more ways than one.

A year ago, Barkley was mentioned alongside Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey as one of the NFL‘s top running backs. Then a high ankle sprain hampered Barkley’s 2019 season before the knee injury took him out in Week 2 this season. Barkley totaled 1,037 rushing yards in 15 games over the past two seasons, and will spend Monday night recovering in Los Angeles while watching the Giants host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Barkley was said to be in “good spirits” in the weeks leading up to the surgery, according to a source. He was seen in a maskless viral video with quarterback Daniel Jones and other teammates during a night out last week that earned the group some ridicule. At one point, the video showed Barkley riding a bicycle and doing what appeared to be wheelies on the street.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Barkley had been waiting for the swelling in his injured knee to go down, which is often the case when there is MCL damage. Then, the procedure was delayed until the World Series ended and Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams, was available to perform the surgery.7

Even though Barkley is on injured reserve and his season is over, Giants coach Joe Judge has kept him around the team, in meeting rooms, and had him travel to Los Angeles and Philadelphia for road games.

“We count on those guys for leadership and being involved, and that was it right there,” Judge said recently of Barkley and then-injured safety Jabrill Peppers, both team captains.

Now, Barkley is ready to get to work on rehab. It will take time and effort. Sweat and pain. Nobody wants to put an exact time frame on it, but the recovery process from a torn ACL with accompanying MCL and meniscus damage is generally nine to 12 months.

He will have about 10½ months to get himself right for Week 1 of next season, so he shouldn’t rush his recovery. Knowing his tight relationship with Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who also recently tore an ACL, expect the two to intertwine their rehab this offseason while they experience a similar process.

Barkley, 23, has something to prove, as he will be entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. A lucrative new contract almost certainly awaits, but first he needs to prove he’s healthy, and as good as — or better than — his former self.

It’s possible, although there could be obstacles. Meniscus injuries complicate the rehab because repair or removal takes away some of the protective power for the knee. While ACL injuries aren’t the career-enders they were decades ago, a player’s effectiveness after returning can vary.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The good news for the Giants: Barkley isn’t just another running back. He is the generational talent with quads as wide as bookshelves who Giants general manager Dave Gettleman once said was “touched by the hand of God.”

“He is [an] Adrian Peterson-like [marvel],” one NFL general manager said of what he expects from Barkley’s comeback.