Saquon Barkley missed the vast majority of the 2020 NFL season to injury but, if the latest NFL rumors are to be believed, the running back will be cleared and ready for Week 1. In other news, the Baltimore Ravens are making moves with the future in mind, while Bill Belichick clarified his vaccination comments
NFL Rumors: Saquon Barkley, Ravens Future, Bill Belichick
Throughout the offseason, nobody knew if running back Saquon Barkley was going to be ready for the start of the season. The running back tore his ACL in Week 1 of 2020, but various setbacks forced him to wait until October to undergo surgery. While it is not yet official, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Barkley is planning to play, and is “close” to being cleared for game action.
#Giants RB Saquon Barkley is gearing up to play Sunday vs. the #Broncos, and sources say he’s close to being fully cleared to do so following major knee surgery. The team needs to watch him through Thursday to gauge how his body responds to the workload. But he’s close.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 6, 2021
This is obviously fantastic news for the Giants, but I’d be surprised if Barkley gets his old workload right out of the gate. The generational talent has suffered serious injuries in each of the past two seasons and will probably need some time before finding his old form again. Additionally, Joe Judge and company probably won’t want him taking too many hits as he re-acclimates to life in the NFL.
The last time Saquon Barkley was healthy, he was one of the best running backs in the league. As a rookie, the Penn State product recorded 1,307 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 261 carries to go along with 91 receptions for 721 yards on 121 targets. If he can return to that form, then he should be a top-five running back in the upcoming season.
Baltimore Ravens Building For the Future
The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best rosters in football, and general manager Eric DeCosta intends to keep it that way for a long time. The Ravens currently have the biggest competitive advantage in football: a franchise quarterback on a rookie deal. However, Lamar Jackson will sign a new contract sooner rather than later, which means Baltimore won’t be able to spend as much in free agency.
In order to counter this, DeCosta has started loading up on 2022 draft picks. As noted by Jonas Shaffer, the Ravens currently have 10 picks in 2022, with nine of those coming in the first four rounds. This doesn’t include compensatory picks that Baltimore will likely receive for losing players like Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue.
Shaffer suspects that, in addition to Jackson’s contract, the team is also stockpiling 2022 picks because the scouting process will return to normal in the coming years. The 2021 NFL Combine didn’t happen, which means that scouts didn’t have important athletic information throughout the evaluation process. With the Combine expected to return next year, the Ravens should feel more comfortable in their picks.
Bill Belichick Clarifies Vaccination Comments
Following the release of Cam Newton, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick got in some hot water regarding his comments on the COVID-19 vaccine. Today, Belichick took to the podium to clarify his earlier remarks.
Bill Belichick also opens press conference looking to clarify his vaccination comments from last week. He said, in part, "as a team, we're better off if everyone was vaccinated…" The full comment is below. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/0KTPqfOjyK
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 6, 2021
The eight-time Super Bowl champion said that “[the team] is better off if everyone is vaccinated” but added that “[n]o player has been released or kept because of their vaccination status.” Belichick added that his earlier comments were focused on the vaccine being a personal decision while adding that being vaccinated doesn’t grant 100% immunity.
Belichick’s original comments came to light following Cam Newton’s release. The former MVP is not vaccinated and missed time due to a misunderstanding of the COVID-19 guidelines. This opened the door for first-round pick Mac Jones to steal the job, and some believe that Newton’s vaccination status was a factor in his release. While that may have had something to do with it, Belichick insists it was purely a football decision.