File-New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. Barkley has had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Giants coach Joe Judge confirmed the surgery on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, without giving specifics. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
File-New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. Barkley has had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Giants coach Joe Judge confirmed the surgery on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, without giving specifics. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
View All (3)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Saquon Barkley has no doubt he will get back on the field and play for the New York Giants once he's finished rehabilitating the torn ACL in his right knee.

Speaking to the media on Thursday for the first time since the injury ended his season on Sept. 20, Barkley would not put a timetable on his return. The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year insists his goal is to improve 1% every day.

The running back has now been hit with injuries two straight seasons. He missed three games last year because of a high ankle sprain and saw his season ended in less than two games this year.

A big believer in taking on challenges, Barkley said injuries are something a player can't control; they just happen in a physical game. His plan now is to attack every day and get his body back in shape.

“Hopefully, you know, it works for me. It works out for me,” Barkley said. “I don’t look at it that way, that I’m not Superman. I never viewed myself as a Superman. I wouldn’t say I put that on myself. But I had an injury last year. I was able to overcome that and I have an injury this year. And this is another challenge in a way that, you know, that I would be ready to face.”

The No.2 overall pick in the '18 draft, Barkley might have gotten a new contract after this season if he had another big year. He rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.

Barkley said the money is not his focus now. Getting better and trying to have the type of season Adrian Peterson had after tearing his ACL in December 2011 while playing for Minnesota is the goal.

Peterson won the NFL MVP Award the following season.

Barkley said he has been in contact with the current Detroit Lions running back and they even talked the night before his surgery in Los Angeles in late October. Surgeons repaired the ACL and also fixed a torn meniscus. The MCL was damaged on the play but it healed with time.

Barkley said there have been good and bad times since the injury. One of the darkest times came on the play he was hurt. He knew it was serious right away.

Game day on the couch also has had its ups and downs.

“When we win, you still feel that joy, even though I’m not on the field,” Barkley said. “But it’s also that sit on a couch and watching there. Then you can feel helpless. You can’t do anything. You can’t help your team at all. So I would say Sundays are the toughest days, but the last three weeks they they’ve been pretty good.”

The Giants (4-7) have won their last three games and lead the NFC East heading into a game at the Seattle Seahawks (8-3) on Sunday.

Barkley has enjoyed seeing backup halfback Wayne Gallman carry the load lately behind a much-improved offensive line.

The rehabilitation and having football taken away has been a challenge, said Barkley, who rejoined the Giants in New Jersey two weeks ago.

“But, you know, I’m just trying to be supportive as I can," he said. “You love seeing my guys out there ballin' and doing it, especially the way we’re playing right now. So that definitely makes life a lot easier.”

____

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL