The New York Giants have been cautious with running back Saquon Barkley as he recovers from his torn right ACL, but he is reportedly "trending in the right direction and has a strong chance to play Week 1," according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
The team won't determine his status until next week.
New York opens the season on Sept. 12 against the Denver Broncos, nearly a year after Barkley first suffered his knee injury on Sept. 20, 2020.
Barkley did not see any action in the preseason, but he returned to live drills last week and saw some reps against the New England Patriots during joint practices, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.
"I feel really good right now," the running back said after last Thursday's practice.
The 24-year-old has been a star when healthy, winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2018 when he led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Injuries slowed him in 2019, but he still finished with 1,003 rushing yards, 438 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns in 13 games.
Barkley was off to a slow start in 2020 even before his injury, totaling 34 rushing yards on 19 carries across two games. The offensive line issues that held back the Giants offense could be a problem once again in 2021.
Still, the team is much better when Barkley is on the field thanks to his ability to impact both the rushing and passing attack.
If the Pro Bowler is unavailable for Week 1, Devontae Booker would be the primary ball-carrier for the Giants.