FRISCO, Texas – Sean Lee spent his Saturdays rooting for Saquon Barkley these past few years. On Sunday, he’s going to be tasked with stopping him.
Lee has been one of the most prominent Penn State alums in the NFL for much of the past decade, so he knows exactly what to expect from the Giants’ rookie running back.
“He had an incredible career there, and he was a guy that did a great job representing the university,” Lee said. “Very, very talented. He can do everything – great runner, fast, can run routes out the backfield. He can really do it all.”
Barkley proved that much in his rookie debut against Jacksonville. It was tough sledding against a stout Jaguar front, but Barkley ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run that saw him break tackles and outrun defenders at all three levels of the defense. It was his lone chunk play of the day, but it offered a great glimpse of why the Giants drafted him No. 2 overall.
“He’s a home run threat,” said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. “He’s got the ability to get those jump cuts. He’ll see a hole and he’ll break out. If you don’t have the edges to the defense set, or your corners aren’t replacing correctly, this guy will go to the house on you.”
Ironically, the Cowboys are facing Barkley just one week after they struggled with tackling against the Panthers. Lee wasn’t happy when he sat down to watch the tape of his performance, and he said he has made a conscious effort to work on the fundamentals of tackling this week.
"It's more footwork, positioning, angles and then finishing,” he said. “Make sure you wrap and drive your feet. It's the whole picture."
Lee knows better than most that he won’t be able to afford mistakes like that this weekend. If he does, the guy he spent so many years watching will make him pay for it.
“The stuff you saw at Penn State, you see now,” he said. “It’s confirmed when you put on the All-22 and see how explosive he is and the type of back he is. I think he’s doing a good job making that transition.