Barkley injured the ankle late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s dramatic 31-28 come-from-behind victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He scored two touchdowns in the second half (one rushing, one receiving) when the Giants erased a 21-point deficit.
But it was on the second-to-last play from scrimmage when Barkley got his ankle caught at the bottom of a pile. He was in immediate pain and was helped off the field by trainers. The veteran running back later limped off the field immediately after the game.
Barkley had an X-ray done at State Farm Stadium immediately after the game. The results were negative and there was hope that there was no fracture. But the ankle was still “a bit” swollen and Barkley would undergo an MRI on Monday morning in Arizona.
The Giants’ next three opponents are all playoff teams from last season: The San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night, followed by the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins. Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and rookie Eric Gray will try to fill the void in those games.
There was hope that Barkley had avoided a serious injury and it was just a normal ankle sprain, not the dreaded high ankle sprain that generally sidelines players for multiple weeks.
Barkley, 26, is playing on a revised franchise tag this year. He’s set to become a free agent at the end of the season and was hoping to put himself in position for a significant payday.
Missing time because of injury will not help.
“Obviously, my contract stuff and everything was public and talked about,” Barkley said recently. “I would turn on the TV and I’m seeing myself being talked about. But for me, all that’s in the past. Like I said, once I made that mindset to come here, you’ve got to be mature about it. No hard feelings about it.
“So now, my back’s against the wall again. I’ve got to go out there and prove it. I’m going to go out there and play my heart out, compete at a high level and do what I do best, not only for myself, but for my teammates.”
Barkley has 114 yards rushing on 29 carries through two games this season. He’s also caught nine passes and scored a touchdown on the ground and in the air.
But now Barkley will be forced to miss some time. And it’s not the first time in his career he’s been stuck on the sideline with a similar injury.
Barkley has a history of ankle ailments. He missed three games in 2019 with a right ankle injury that in a similar manner. He missed four games in 2021 with a left ankle injury that came from stepping on the foot of a Dallas Cowboys defensive back.
Any time the Giants will be without Barkley will affect the team. Barkley had 17 rushes for 63 yards and six catches for 29 yards in Sunday’s comeback against the Cardinals, playing a staggering 65 of 67 offensive snaps (97%).
Barkley also played the highest percentage (80.2%) of his team’s running back snaps last season.