The Giants today welcomed back two key offensive players to practice in running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram. They hope each will be available to play Sunday, when the Giants host the Arizona Cardinals.
Barkley has missed three games because of the sprained ankle he suffered in the victory at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22. Engram did not play last Thursday at New England because of a knee injury.
Coach Pat Shurmur wasn’t specific about how many reps Barkley took at practice but did reveal what the team’s leading rusher must do to return to the field against the Cardinals.
“He has to handle practice well and be ready to play,” Shurmur said. “He practiced today, so we’ll see when he comes in tomorrow how he feels. Then the next day and so on and so forth.”
Asked about his hopes for Barkley playing on Sunday, Shurmur said, “We’ll just have to see. I’m going to let the week kind of determine that.”
Shurmur said Engram “did a lot” in practice.
“I feel really good,” Engram said. “Got out there, was running around. It was good to get out there moving around. I’ve got a long week to get ready, so coach is taking care of us, but we did get some good work in. It felt good today.”
Engram was hurt against Minnesota on Oct. 6, giving him scant time to recover in time for last Thursday night’s game in New England.
“Definitely, last week was tough, and the short week didn’t really help, but today with the rest that I got, I felt really good,” Engram said.
The third-year pro missed three games last season with a knee injury but said the two issues are dissimilar.
“It’s definitely not as severe,” Engram said. “That was kind of the thing, I could tell a good difference from experiencing what I went through last year. So, it was definitely kind of a common feeling, but the trainers have done a good job of getting me ready and getting the recovery going.”
Engram said he is “pretty optimistic” he will play on Sunday.
Two other key offensive contributors – wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Wayne Gallman – remain in the concussion protocol. Both were on the field wearing yellow “no contact” vests over their jerseys.
“Anytime there’s an individual in the protocol or coming back from a concussion, the doctors will let us know when they’re allowed to be playing,” Shurmur said. “So, that’s where we’re at. I really don’t have anything to add. I understand the interest in all of this, but there’s really nothing that I can add.”
*Barkley, Engram and Shepard didn’t travel to New England for the game last week, but that didn’t preclude them from being good teammates.
“We watched the game together, it was fun,” Engram said. “It was definitely hard not being out there with the guys, but the team played their butts off and we were in it. But yeah, we watched it together.”
*The Giants today bolstered their wide receivers unit with a familiar face when they re-signed Bennie Fowler, who was released on Oct. 1. Fowler played in the season’s first four games with two starts and caught 12 passes for 99 yards with a long reception of 17 yards and added a 20-yard run. Since joining the Giants on Oct. 16, 2018, Fowler has 28 catches for 298 yards and one touchdown in 14 games, seven of them starts.
To create room on the roster, the Giants terminated the contract of linebacker Nate Stupar, who played in three games with one start since he was re-signed on Sept. 24. A Riley Dixon punt caromed off Stupar’s (who was the up-back) helmet, which resulted in a Patriots touchdown at New England.
This was the third roster move the Giants made since their loss last week. On Friday, they re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney and cut running back Austin Walter. The previous day, the Giants released their No. 3 quarterback and signed Walter off the practice squad because they wanted to have a third running back available for the game.
Also Friday, the Giants signed running back Javorius “Buck” Allen, who played in 54 games with six starts for the Baltimore Ravens from 2015-18. His career totals include 340 carries for 1,249 yards and eight touchdowns, plus 129 receptions for 814 yards in six scores. Last year, Allen played in 14 games and had 41 carries for 110 yards and three touchdowns – one in each of the first three games – and caught 35 passes for 196 yards and two scores.
Allen was signed as a free agent on May 28 by the New Orleans Saints, who released him on Aug. 9.
“We’re glad he’s here,” Shurmur said. “He was available, we worked him out and we’ll get him going as quickly as possible.”
“It’s a blessing, we have great talented guys here,” Allen said. “You don’t miss anything until it’s gone, and I missed it. It’s a blessing to be on this team, I am here to do whatever they need me to do. If that’s running, catching, hitting, whatever it is, I’m here to do it.”
In a corresponding move, the Giants waived running back Jon Hilliman, who rushed for 91 yards on 30 carries, but lost a fumble in each of the last two games.