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Saquon Barkley poised and on his game at the mic at Eagles introduction

PHILADELPHIA — If you’ve noticed how physically Saquon Barkley plays and admired his ability to survive the jolts he’s taken over the last six years, you probably wonder how much fuel is left in the tank.

Will he be there in December, when the Eagles will need him most? The guy averaged 252 touches in his career with the New York Giants, a lot of those collisions harder than what might have happened had he operated behind a competent offensive line such as Team Philly has. (Full disclosure: roughly half of those games were on the horrific MetLife Stadium turf.)

The 27-year-old Barkley bristled when the topic came up Thursday and in defense invoked the names of Walter Payton and Barry Sanders at his introductory news conference at the NovaCare Complex.

“I pride myself in the way I take care of my body,” Barkley said. “I pride myself in the way I train. And I’m a big believer in learning from the greats. The Walters, the Barrys, and the list goes on and on. I’m not comparing myself to those guys, but a lot of those guys have played until well into their 30s. I don’t get into analytics. None of that stuff. I believe that the work you put in it is what you get out. I’ll just continue to have that mindset.”

The Eagles figure Barkley has two productive seasons because basically the three-year pact worth $37.7 million he signed is a two-year, $24.5 million pact, according to Overthecap.com, factoring in the out.

The great Walter Payton played until age 34 with the Chicago Bears. He rushed for 1,300 or more yards in four straight seasons in his 30s.

Sanders only played until age 30, as he rushed for 1,491 yards before retiring suddenly from the Detroit Lions. At age 29, which really is your 30th year, Sanders ran for 2,053 yards. You get the point.

Barkley (6-0, 228) unquestionably is an imposing looking running back who passes the eyeball test. After his presser he mixed with the press corps, shaking hands, and saying hello to everyone. He certainly looks the part of a three-down back who can run, catch and block. And that’s very important to him.

“Just look at the history of all the great running backs,” Barkley said. “All the great ones do that. So, I pride myself on that. And I know I can continue to improve whether it’s running the ball in between the tackles, outside the tackles, catching the ball, pass blocking, all those things that really make you an every-down back.”

Like it or not, all we can do now is project although Barkley’s fan base is convinced he’ll take a run at LeSean McCoy’s club record of 1,607 rushing yards set in 2013, Wilbert Montgomery’s mark of 1,512 rushing yards established in 1979 or Ricky Watters’ 1,411 rushing yards in 1996.

Watters did it almost entirely himself as the Eagles’ O-line back then was made largely from rejects from other teams along with a quarterback-by-committee offense. His situation was remarkably similar to Barkley with the Giants.

In addition to the offensive line, what appealed most to Barkley about the Eagles was triple threat quarterback Jalen Hurts and big-time weapons AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, both of whom have recorded 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. He didn’t mention how that would impact his touches.

“I feel like I’m a special player and I’ve still got a lot left and I’ve got a lot to prove,” Barkley said. “I just can’t wait to get on the field with those guys and prove it and show the world.”

Until the Eagles actually line up with Barkley, the debates are hilarious. There is very little middle ground with the signing, though. You like it or you ask yourself, why didn’t they re-sign D’Andre Swift or roll with another less expensive option who doesn’t need the ball as much? Josh Jacobs, Aaron Jones, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, and Derrick Henry were out there.

"The business side is done, and we can keep the main thing the main thing. And that's going out there and playing football and winning football games,

First impressions are lasting impressions, and Barkley, his family in the audience, came off as composed, authentic and patient, the latter nodding to quiet his little daughter Jada Claire, who wanted to ask a question.

Barkley could not overstate how great life would be closer to his hometown in the Lehigh Valley, much of it spent in Coplay.

His children could see their mother and grandparents. Thanksgiving dinner would be at his mother’s house. Aunts and uncles would be more in the picture. He’d again be bumping into the people who followed his career from Whitehall High to Penn State and the Giants. Nice.

No doubt about it, Barkley has missed his share of games. What he won’t miss is the game of contract tag the Giants played with him last season, and probably messed with his inner sense of security.

“Just ready to get off the business side of it the last two years,” Barkley said. “I feel like so many people would come up to me about me getting tagged or talking contract leading up to this. And now all of that’s done. The business side is done, and we can keep the main thing the main thing. And that’s going out there and playing football and winning football games.”

To contact Bob Grotz, email rgrotz@delcotimes.com


Source: Berkshire mont

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