EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Saquon Barkley wasted no time showing New York and the rest of the NFL what he can do, rushing for a 39-yard gain on the first play of New York’s first series against Cleveland.
On the run, Barkley showed an impressive combination of vision and speed, bouncing out to the right and accelerating into Cleveland’s secondary before eventually being pushed out of bounds by Damarious Randall.
“What I saw on that first carry, the offensive line did a great job,” Barkley said on the sideline during the game. “I was able to have patience … I was able to burst through the hole, make a guy miss and get up field.
Despite the electrifying run, Barkley was quickly replaced by backup Jonathan Stewart. Barkley’s run was the longest play of the drive which ended with a 42-yard field goal from Aldrick Rosas.
“I was just excited to get out there and show my team what I have,” Barkley said. “I only got a couple of carries, but I wanted to show that I’m willing to get the gritty yards, break big plays, and be productive in this offense.”
After a disappointing season, the Giants took Barkley with the second overall pick. Rather than follow Cleveland and draft a quarterback in a class filled with them, New York felt Barkley would be able to improve its 26th-ranked run offense. The former Penn State star was the highest running back taken since New Orleans selected Reggie Bush in 2006.
“I loved his first run,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said. “If only they could all be like that. You could see, it wasn’t too big for him. I think he took the next step in his progress to get ready for the season.”
He’s paying off already.