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Report: Giants to Rest Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, 'Key Starters' vs. Eagles

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 7, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 01: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants hands off to Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants during the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on January 01, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Vincent Alban/Getty Images)
Vincent Alban/Getty Images

With the New York Giants locked in as the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, head coach Brian Daboll is reportedly planning to rest several key players during Sunday's regular-season finale against the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles.

According to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, neither running back Saquon Barkley nor quarterback Daniel Jones are expected to play, while other notable starters such as defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and offensive tackle Andrew Thomas could also be held out or pulled from the game early.

The G-Men will also be without defensive tackle Leonard Williams and linebacker Azeez Ojulari, both of whom have been ruled out due to injury.

While Sunday's game is of no significance to the Giants, the Eagles are looking to secure the NFC East title, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage throughout.

Philly looked as though it was going to cruise to those accolades, but things are now in question after back-to-back losses the past two weeks during the absence of injured quarterback Jalen Hurts.

A win on Sunday would allow the Eagles to clinch everything, but a loss would open the door for the Dallas Cowboys to clinch the NFC East with a win over the Washington Commanders. Also, both the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers would be alive for the No. 1 seed if the Eagles lose to the Giants.

Hurts is listed as questionable to play in Week 18 with an injured throwing shoulder after being a limited participant in practice all week.

Even if Hurts doesn't play and Gardner Minshew has to fill in again, the Eagles will likely be a substantial home favorite against a Giants team expected to rest its top players.

Barkley and Jones were key figures in the Giants returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, as both of them played some of the best football of their careers this season.

Hiring Daboll as head coach and Joe Schoen as general manager away from the Buffalo Bills also aided in the Giants' culture change, but there is no denying the on-field impact Barkley and Jones have had.

Barkley burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2018, winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award by virtue of 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns.

The next three seasons were plagued by injuries, however, and Barkley struggled to return to his initial level of play. Last season was especially tough, as he rushed for just 593 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games and averaged 3.7 yards per carry.

Barkley has looked like a different player this season, rushing for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to being named a Pro Bowler for the second time in his career.

The 25-year-old Jones is not a Pro Bowler, but he made a strong case for himself in leading the Giants to a 9-6-1 record. His 3,205 passing yards and 15 touchdowns may leave something to be desired, but he completed a career-high 67.2 percent of his passes and threw a career-low five interceptions.

He has also been one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL this season, rushing for 708 yards and seven scores.

If Jones does indeed sit on Sunday, veteran backup Tyrod Taylor will get the start at quarterback, while Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell would be in line for a bigger workload out of the backfield if Barkley doesn't play.