Saquon Barkley says hello to the NFL in style with eye-popping first Giants carry | Politi

Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley turned something out of nothing on his first carry against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, August 9, 2018 (8/9/18) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., but quarterback Eli Manning's offense still looks bad.
Watch video He changed directions five times in a two-second span.
Saquon Barkley took the handoff to the left of Eli Manning, then immediately broke to the right.
He took one step up field, then saw a waiting defensive end and stepped back.
Then, just when it looked like he would break outside, he made another move back to the inside to find a sliver of daylight -- and if you're confused now, well, so were the Cleveland Browns.  Words don't do it justice.
Just watch it.
Three Browns fell to the ground as Barkley broke free into the secondary.
His first play as an NFL player went for 39 yards before Browns safety Damarious Randall pushed him out of bounds, and here are two things we can say with certainty:  1. That play goes for two yards last season.  2.
If the overwhelming Barkley hype was already making Giants co-owner John Mara a little squeamish, his first carry in an NFL uniform just cranked that level up to 11.
Adjust your fantasy drafts accordingly.  "(It was) just a run.
Let's not go berserk, alright?" quarterback Eli Manning said when the 20-10 loss was over.
Uhhh ...
too late, Eli! This is a good time for our annual reminder: Do not draw any conclusions from what you see during these meaningless August football games.
Do not watch them if you can, or for that matter, read anything written about them.
That includes this column.  Disclaimer over.
We now resume our irresponsible preseason drum banging, already in progress.  Barkley looked like the No.
2 pick in the draft in his debut, but that should come as no surprise.
He carried the ball five times for 43 yards before the team wisely covered him in bubble wrap and discovered, on those other four carries, that the rebuilt Giants offensive line is still very much a work in progress -- and that's being kind.  This was not a promising debut overall for Pat Shurmur's offense.
Quarterbacks Eli Manning and Davis Webb were a combined 12-of-27 passing for 86 yards in the first half.
Receiver Odell Beckham didn't play, but his agent must've spent the night pricing condos in the Bahamas for the fat commission he's about to get on that new contract.  The 50 greatest NFL players from N.J.
Webb was especially bad, struggling with his accuracy on a night when the No.
1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield, looked sharp in his debut for the Browns.
Webb's struggles were a reminder that, for all of Barkley's talent, the Giants still do not have a clear succession plan for the 37-year-old Manning after passing on a quarterback at the top of the draft.  That debate will rage on for years.
On this night, all eyes were on the kid wearing No.
26 on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, and Barkley made his first impression count.  "The patience I had on that play was definitely my favorite thing about (it)," Barkley said of that first run.
"Everyone talks about how the speed is different in the NFL, but to see that you've got that burst and you can get to the line of scrimmage like that and create space (was important)." Not that he was satisfied.  "When I saw the play on the field, I was like, 'C'mon.
You've got to find a way to score there,'" he said.
"But it's a great starting point." The Giants rushed the ball 394 times last year.
Only twice did they gain more than 39 yards on a play, with Orleans Darkwa gaining 75 and 47 yards against the Redskins and Broncos, respectfully.
That those are two of the three games the Giants won last season does not feel like a coincidence.
This is why first-year GM Dave Gettleman was the world's worst poker player during the offseason, professing his love for Barkley early in the draft process and never wavering.
It's undeniable that Barkley is going to make an impact in the short term, and his ability to make something out of nothing is part of the reason why.  "It felt weird, the feelings are hard to describe," Barkley said when asked about his emotions before the game.
"I really didn't get that nervous for this game, I have been preparing for this moment my whole life.
I only got a couple of carries, but I wanted to show that I'm willing to get the gritty yards, break big plays, and be productive in this offense." He showed that with the first snap of his professional career, taking the handoff and showing explosive moves that Giants fans haven't seen from a running back in a long time.
Let's not go berserk? Too late, Eli.
Too late.  Steve Politi may be reached at spoliti@njadvancemedia.com.
Follow him on Twitter @StevePoliti.
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