How much can we expect from Saquon Barkley in return from injury?
New York Giants running back, Saquon Barkley, is set to make his return from injury tomorrow.. The Giants start the season against a very good defense with the Denver Broncos. The Giants O-line will have to handle Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, a matchup that heavily favors the Broncos. There is a lot of pressure on the Giants to start winning and Barkley is vital for that goal. However, he is on his way back from a torn ACL so we are not exactly sure how much we can expect from him. Although all players return at different paces and at a variety of success, we can still take a look back and see how running backs have faired after returning from an ACL injury.
Recent High Profile Injuries
No matter how talented any running back is, Adrian Peterson was a talent that only few can compare to. At his height, Peterson was one of the most talented backs the NFL has ever seen. In 2011, Peterson simultaneously tore his ACL and MCL. He managed to recover in a lightning quick 9 months and came up just short of the single season rushing record the following season. Peterson’s career is pretty much over now, but he has had a very lengthy career relative to the position and his injury history.
Dalvin Cook was establishing himself as one of the NFL’s top running backs when he tore his ACL in October 2017. Cook saw his rush attempts per game and yards per game (YPG) drop drastically in his first season back from his injury. However in 2019, he went back to around his pre-injury numbers and in 2020, his numbers took off. In 2020, he average 111.2 yards per game and had over 1500 total yards on the ground. Cook is considered to be the top running back behind Christian McCaffrey. Outside of his first season back, Dalvin Cook has faired extremely well since his ACL injury.
Jamaal Charles could be considered both a success story as well as a non-success story. Charles tore his ACL in 2011 in the Chiefs second game of the season. In his first season back in 2012, Charles had a career high in both carries (285) and yards (1509). He was selected to his 2nd of 3 Pro Bowls in 2012. However, Charles tore his ACL again in 2015 and he never regained his form. He played 5 games in 2015, 3 games in 2016, 14 in 2017, and 2 in his final season in 2018. He never had more than 71 carries or 364 yards in a season after his second injury.
What does this mean for Barkley?
Personally, I find it more likely that Barkley’s numbers look more like Dalvin Cook’s first season back than Peterson’s or Charles’s. Barkley saw a massive decrease in production from his rookie season to his second season. He average only 1.8 yards per carry before he got injured in the second game of the season last year. A lot of that has to do with the Giants offensive line. A bad offensive line and a running back returning from a knee injury does not sound like a great conversation. However, Barkley is an extremely talented back who can make you look silly in the open field. If anyone can return from an ACL injury to prolific numbers, it is Saquon Barkley.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)
Featured image courtesy of Forbes
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