Giants’ Saquon Barkley steps it up after ‘soft’ self critique

SEATTLE — Imagine walking up to Saquon Barkley at halftime of the Giants’ game last week against the Jaguars, pointing to the stat sheet indicating he had run nine times for 18 yards and saying to him, “I think you ran soft.’’

What would his reaction be to such an accusation?

He might have simply looked in the mirror, because that is how he characterized his running style following the 23-17 victory. He is dealing with a bruised shoulder, but calling himself out as “soft’’ was startling to hear.

“What made me say that is because it’s me,’’ Barkley said. “It’s my body. Sometimes you’ve got to be your biggest critic and just being honest with myself. I think maybe I jumped a little to a conclusion when I talked to you guys after the game.’’

Barkley finished with 24 rushes for 110 yards.

“It was more just having a slow start,’’ Barkley said. “I’ve got to be better for the team in the beginning of the game. Obviously was able to pick it up, but just got to be better. That’s it. Just go back to trusting the alignments, trusting the reads, getting downhill, being instinctive and making plays.’’

Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley

Barkley should have opportunities Sunday against a Seahawks defense that is allowing 149.7 yards per game on the ground. That is 30th in the league, two spots below the Giants, who are 28th in run defense, giving up 144.4 yards per game.

“Saquon is very critical of himself,’’ offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said. “That’s what makes him the player he is. Was there some more left out there for him? Maybe, I think so. That’s the kind of competitor he is and I think he’s never satisfied.’’

The flight from New Jersey to the Pacific Northwest is about as far as an NFL team can travel to a game — in the United States. The Giants in Week 5 played and beat the Packers in London.

“We just play them where they show up,’’ coach Brian Daboll said. “Whatever they are on the schedule, we play. And we try to do the best job we can as a staff to prepare the players, whether that’s give them a little bit more rest, change up a practice schedule, talk about hydration.

“The other day I had Leigh Weiss [director of rehabilitation/physical therapist] come up and talk in the beginning part of the week to get ready for Sunday and start early with it, just like we did when we went to London. So, each week’s a different week and presents its own challenges.’’

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, 71, has 167 wins as an NFL head coach in the regular season and postseason. The next victory for Carroll moves him into a tie with Vikings legend Bud Grant for 18th place on the all-time list.

“That can’t be right, that doesn’t seem right,’’ Carroll said. “How can that possibly be right? He’s way out there to me and always will be. I’ll let you know, I don’t even have a statement to make about that.”

Carroll was the defensive backs coach with the Vikings in 1985, Grant’s final year as the head coach in Minnesota.

The Giants elevated LB/S Landon Collins and TE Lawrence Cager from the practice squad. Cager is needed because Daniel Bellinger (eye surgery) is out. OLB Elerson Smith was activated off injured reserve and OL Ben Bredeson (knee) was placed on IR, meaning he will be out at least four games.