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Saquon Barkley, NFL Star Running Back, is Focused on Improvement

"I always feel like I’ve got something to prove. That’s always been my mindset.” – Saquon Barkley

LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES, May 18, 2020 / -- Saquon Barkley, New York Giants running back, is mindful of the goings-on in the NFL. For starters, the third-year player, who after this season will commence negotiations for a new deal, held Carolina running back Christian McCafafrey on the contract extension transactions that cumulated in a $64 million payday record-breaking. He is also aware of how Todd Gurley, once in his tenure with the Los Angeles Rams as one of the "it" backs in the NFL, was kicked to the curb this off-season only to land with the Falcons on his feet. Barkley, who hopes his potential will resonate more with the result of McCaffrey than Gurley's, has no clue where his potential resides, but he won't take it for granted regardless.

"I always feel like I’ve got something to prove. That’s always been my mindset," he told reporters on a video teleconference. "Always going to try to be the best player and person that I can be, not only for myself but for my team."

After negotiating his new deal, Barkley said he was pleased with McCaffrey, but explained that his position is somewhat special as he has to take care of the smaller things in his career so he can start to create a case for his own payoff. "I’m a big believer in taking care of the little things first," Barkley said. "That’s right now coming into the meetings and try to be the best leader, the best player I can from this. I feel like if you take care of that the other things take care of themselves in the future.”

And if he's not holding himself in good condition and working on developing as a player, getting the same fate that struck Gurley wouldn't be a shock. "It was definitely shocking," Barkley said of Gurley's release by the Rams, adding, "Hopefully, he can remind the league how dominant of a player he is." Although what happened to Gurley serves as a lesson to most running backs to keep going, Barkley said there's no need to remember how tough the NFL can be.

"I don't need Todd Gurley getting cut to remind me how the NFL is. That's just the NFL, it's a business, and that's why you got to take advantage of every single day you can." In the 2018 draft, Barkley was drafted No. 2 overall, the top running back selected since Reggie Bush was drafted No. 2 in 2006. A controversial pick in that many questioned given the shelf life of the running back position, Barkley has paid off for the Giants so far.

He shattered several records during his rookie year, including most receptions by a rookie running back all the time, most total yards and tds of any rookie in the history of Giants, and just became the third rookie to eclipse 2,000 yards of scrimmage. Such accomplishments might seem to be pointing to the importance of Barkley as a key element of the team, so if he can continue to deliver this kind of quality, he might just placed on a road to top the record deal of McCaffrey.

"What I’m trying to build on is just trying to improve every single day right now with these meetings," said Barkley. "Be that guy coming to these meetings locked in, making sure that I’m taking notes, paying attention to the details and anytime that I do get a chance to work on my little craft, whether I get on the field or not, focus on the things that are being taught in meetings and try to apply it to the field."

Barkley knows the strategy of the new offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, and what he did to Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, a three-time Pro Bowler and a 2017 All-Rookie Team member who ended twice as the rushing yard king of the league in 2016 and 2018 Barkley said he hopes to reach Elliott, who averaged 1,351 yards and 14.5 touchdowns a year and received a six-year $90 million contract extension last year.

"That is something I do plan on doing, but I want to get the system down myself and then get to Elliot and see what he's doing here and what he's doing there," Barkley said. What Barkley ends up doing will very much determine if he follows the paths of McCaffrey and Elliott, or Gurley.

Aurora DeRose
Michael Levine Media
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