Why NY Giants running back Saquon Barkley waited on his now-complete knee surgery
EAST RUTHERFORD - Saquon Barkley's road to recovery from a serious knee injury began well before the Giants' star running back underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon.
It's the reason why Barkley waited 40 days between the day he was hurt against the Chicago Bears in Week 2 and actually going under the knife for the procedure that was performed by renowned specialist Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute on the West Coast.
Tonya Johnson, Barkley's mother, posted a photo of a recuperating Barkley in a hospital with his right leg heavily bandaged and in a brace on her Instagram account as confirmation that the procedure was completed late Friday night.
"Surgery was a success," Johnson wrote on her verified IG page.
Barkley, 23, has been rehabbing since sustaining the injury on the first play of the second quarter Sept.20 against the Bears. There was a delay in Barkley's surgery, but this plan was calculated.
It was done not just to reduce inflammation in the injured knee before the procedure, which is common. The belief here is that improving the strength of the knee before the procedure helps accelerate and improve the rehabilitation and recovery post-surgery. The more range of motion in the joint prior to the procedure, the better the prognosis.
Barkley also worked around the schedule of ElAttrache, the surgeon and team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers, so he was in the World Series bubble in Arlington, Texas, until earlier this week when the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays to claim the title.
Giants coach Joe Judge said Saturday that he has not yet spoken with Barkley, but senior vice president of medical services Ronnie Barnes had, and the feedback has been promising. Teammates have also in communication with Barkley.
“It sounds like it was a positive deal right there," Judge said. "Obviously, we’ll know more as time goes on and his rehab starts. But it seems like he’s in good spirits.”
Doctors generally say an athlete can return in 6-9 months after ACL surgery, and the Giants - without officially placing a timetable on Barkley - believe he has a chance to be ready for training camp next August with an eye on the 2021 season if all goes well.
Future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson set the standard for which all NFL players shoot when it comes to recovering from ACL injuries. The current Detroit Lion tore his ACL on Christmas Eve 2011 and returned to the field the following season to not only lead the league in rushing, but win NFL MVP honors.
Typically, athletes in recovery from ACL surgery are cleared for sport-specific activities in six months, a timeline if applicable here would allow for Barkley to begin ramping up his football training in April-May during the NFL's peak offseason training period around the time OTAs (offseason team activities) have been held prior to COVID-19 changes.
Barkley is widely considered among the best at his position in the NFL and one of the most popular players in the league. The Giants selected Barkley No. 2 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he has been the center piece of their offense.
Barkley was with the Giants over the past month despite being placed on injured reserve. He was present in meetings and traveled with the team to road games in Los Angeles and Philadelphia as coach Joe Judge acknowledged the importance of his leadership and presence even though he was not in uniform on the field.
He essentially played five quarters of his third season, finishing with 19 carries for 34 yards and no touchdowns prior to the injury. The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year also fought through a high ankle sprain last season, topping 1,000 yards for the second straight campaign, although his performance was hampered, limiting his availability to 13 games.
Art Stapleton is the Giants beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Giants analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and sign up for our NFC East newsletter.