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Devontae Booker’s responsibilities for the Giants this season will be largely dependent on the health of Saquon Barkley. But as the team’s second-string running back, Booker is only focusing on what he can control and taking things rep by rep.
“[Barkley’s status] is honestly something I don’t even pay attention to,” Booker said Wednesday afternoon, the first day of training camp in East Rutherford, N.J. “I just go out there and do the reps and do what I am told and let everything else fall into place. I am going to continue to work my butt off and bust my ass for this team.”
Barkley missed the final 14 games last season after tearing his right ACL during the Giants’ Week 2 game at Chicago. While the 24-year-old, who had surgery on his knee on Oct. 30, expects to return this season, his status for the Week 1 matchup against the Broncos on Sept. 12 is in question. If Barkley is not healthy, Booker will be ready to take over.
“Absolutely. That is always what I envision,” Booker said. “I just go out there and do what I need to do so I can help my team win. If my number is called, we will see what happens.”
The Giants aggressively pursued Booker, signing him in March to a two-year, $5.5 million deal, which is worth up to $6 million with incentives. A month after that, general manager Dave Gettleman said the Giants valued the 2016 fourth-round pick because he is “a legitimate three-down running back.”
“[The Giants] showed a lot of interest. It was surprising for me. I didn’t think it would happen that quickly,” Booker said. “They got on the phone with my agent and wanted to get something done. We got something done and I am a New York Giant.”
Booker is more than just a runner. He is an effective receiver — he caught a career-best 38 receptions for 285 yards with the Broncos in 2018 — who can also block and play special teams. The 29-year-old has good vision and plays with physicality, too.
“I do the little things,” Booker said.
With the Raiders last season, Booker suited up in all 16 games for the third consecutive year and the fourth time in his career as a backup to Josh Jacobs, rushing for 423 yards and three touchdowns. In his five-year career, mainly as a secondary option, Booker has rushed for 1,526 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Sacramento, Calif., native has had limited exposure to the New York City area, including a New Year’s Eve trip a few years ago.
“I haven’t been to New York for a long period of time. It is kind of new to me. A little different But it is something that I am growing accustomed to,” Booker said. “It is New York City, baby.”
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