EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tests on Monday confirmed that New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley has a torn ACL in his right knee. He will miss the remainder of the season.

Barkley underwent an MRI at the Hospital of Special Surgery in Manhattan the day after he was injured while running the football in a 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. He will undergo surgery in the “near future” according to the team.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard is also dealing with turf toe that forced him from the second half of the contest. He will likely miss time, a source told ESPN.

The Giants knew that losing Barkley for the season was the likely outcome. Former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman is set to visit Tuesday, according to sources.

Freeman, 28, rushed for 656 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season. Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman are likely to split the workload in the meantime with Barkley out for the season.

Barkley was hurt as he ran toward the sideline Sunday in Chicago and was being tackled by Bears safety Eddie Jackson. He grabbed at the knee as he was headed to the ground.

Barkley was later carted to the locker room and slammed his fist in disgust. He had four rushes for 28 yards before exiting. His season ends with 19 rushes for 34 yards and no touchdowns.

It’s now onto next season for Barkley, who becomes eligible for a contract extension at the end of this year. This naturally becomes a roadblock. He will face an extensive rehab with the goal of being back by the start of next season.

Barkley scrubbed his Instagram account Sunday night after the injury and left one post – a picture commemorating his sports idol, the late Kobe Bryant. The caption ends with the hashtags #mambamentality and #forever.

Barkley later retweeted a tweet from Complex Sports noting he deleted all of his posts on IG except for the picture of Kobe and #MambaMentality. This appears to signify the star running back’s mindset as he eyes surgery, rehab and a comeback.

One of the biggest concerns teams have with running backs who tear their ACL is the vulnerability of their other knee once they return. Best-case scenario is that Barkley is the same type of physical freak that is Adrian Peterson. The current Detroit Lions running back tore his ACL in 2011 at 26 years old. He returned the for the start of the following season and had the most productive year of his legendary career with 2,097 yards rushing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.

Peterson tweeted encouragement to Barkley on Sunday:

Coach Joe Judge envisions something similar from Barkley.

“Don’t fall asleep on 26,” Judge said. “It’s going to be a hell of a story either way.”

Barkley, 23, has rushed for 2,344 yards on 497 carries his first three professional season after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He finished 2020 with 34 yards on 18 carries with no touchdowns.

After a huge rookie season in which Barkley accumulated more than 2,000 total yards from scrimmage, he was hampered by a high ankle sprain last year. He missed three games and was not at 100 percent in several others.

Barkley was healthy throughout the summer and confident for a big year in offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s offense after seeing the success Ezekiel Elliott had with him in Dallas. The Giants built their offense around Barkley, the talented back whom general manager Dave Gettleman considered a transcendent talent and future “gold jacket” player when he was drafted.

Barkley seemed destined to have a massive year as the centerpiece of the Giants’ plans, even if their Monday night opener against the Steelers was a disaster. He had six yards on 15 carries and was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on 11 of those touches.

Now, the Giants will have to recalibrate their offense without their top playmaker and hope he returns to his previous form by the start of next season. This is a massive loss.

“I mean, he’s Saquon Barkley. You lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss,” said running back Dion Lewis, who took Barkley’s spot in the lineup Sunday and rushed for a touchdown. “As a team, everybody has to step up. Receivers got to step up. O-line has to step up. The running backs have to step up. The quarterback has to step up. Defense has to step up. It’s not going to be one person step up to make up for what he’s done. It’s going to take all of us.”

After three professional seasons, Barkley will have made one Pro Bowl and missed 17 of 48 career games.


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