EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is getting something new in his game – criticism.
Barkley has been under fire this week after gaining 6 yards on 15 carries in a season-opening 26-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The yardage total was the second worst of his brief NFL career, and one of the worst in the past 20 years when a back had 15 carries.
There’s more. The 2017 NFL offensive rookie of the year came under fire from former Giants running back Tiki Barber. The current Hall of Fame candidate said Barkley’s pass blocking was so poor he did not deserve to be on the field all three downs. What had to be even tougher to hear was Barber saying the third-year running back was a big back who didn’t like to hit.
After practice on Thursday, Barkley refused to snap back at Barber, saying he had the right to speak his mind. He even admitted he missed a block or two. He also said the criticism didn’t bother him.
”When I say I don’t care, I truly don’t care about other people’s opinions,” Barkley said. ”I know you can ask my teammates, anyone in this building, they won’t question my toughness.”
Barkley said it’s easy for ”an All Pro clicker” to watch video and say a player should have done this or that.
”In my position I know how I come to work every single day and I have the belief that my teammates have in me, so that’s why every single week I am going to come out and try to improve and get better, not for you guys or anyone else outside of here, but for the guys in this building,” Barkley said.
Barkley said his performance against the Steelers won’t serve as motivation in Chicago. Despite a poor performance in which he got little help from his offensive line and tight ends, the former Penn State star said he came to work with a smile this week.
”My motivation is to be great myself,” he said. ”I don’t need you guys to push me that way. I need to focus on myself and try to build up myself this week. There is no extra motivation. It’s just try to come in and get a `W’ for the Giants.”
Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said Barkley works hard to be a complete back.
”There were some examples of him blocking well in the passing game the other night,” Garrett said. ”There were some examples of him not blocking as well as he needs to. He knows that. We’re working on that.”
Barber was not as kind when he spoke Tuesday on CBS Sports Radio’s ”Tiki and Tierney.”
”Saquon Barkley might not be an every down back,” Barber said. ”He cannot pass protect. It’s becoming glaring … and it’s going to be a liability.”
Barber later said he still believes Barkley will be a great back.
Barkley’s worst game in two-plus seasons was against the Jets last season. He gained 1 yard on 13 carries. The Giants had a bye the following week. Coincidentally, the next game was against the Bears and Barkley gained 59 yards on 17 carries.
NOTES: The Giants had everyone at practice. LB Carter Coughlin and WR Golden Tate were limited with hamstring injuries. DB Adrian Cobert was limited with an quad injury.
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