As running back Saquon Barkley went in 2018, so went the New York Giants.
Barkley totaled the sixth-highest offensive snaps (853) in the league during his rookie campaign in New York en route to finishing second in the league in rushing with 1,307 yards on 264 attempts.
But with a new season approaching, head coach Pat Shurmur appears to desire more offensive balance in how the Giants utilize Barkley.
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"I don’t know about more," Shurmur told reporters earlier in the week on the Giants’ opening day of organized team activities, via the team’s official website. "I think he had a big load a year ago, but it’s best if we can spread the ball around."
The 6-foot, 233-pound Barkley, who was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, certainly proved he could handle a big load despite running behind an inconsistent offensive line.
In addition to his rushing totals, which included 11 touchdowns, Barkley produced 91 catches for 721 yards and four touchdowns. His 91 receptions established a rookie running back record, surpassing Reggie Bush’s previous high of 88 catches.
Barkley’s 2,028 total yards from scrimmage ranked as the most in the league the past season, and marked the third-highest total for a rookie in NFL history behind Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212) and Edgerrin James (2,139).
Still, the Giants seem to understand the importance of not wearing down Barkley, who plays a position susceptible to injury given the amount of high-impact hits on any given play.
The Giants also won’t be turning over the offense to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones with Eli Manning returning for another season. While the Giants no longer have Odell Beckham Jr., the team has wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate to go along with tight end Evan Engram.
With other pieces in places, the Giants are willing to find the balance for Barkley while keeping others involved.
"It certainly makes sense for us to hand him the ball and we certainly can throw it to him, as well," Shurmur said. "And so he’ll be involved, for sure, and we try to watch it and see. I wouldn’t say manage it, but do what’s best because we have other good players that should touch the ball, as well."
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