EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Four days after their impressive performance in Tennessee, the Giants rookies continue to be the center of attention at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
If they play as they did in the Giants' 36-7 victory over the Titans, that won't change. Odell Beckham Jr. caught 11 passes for 130 yards and a 15-yard touchdown. One of his receptions was a 50-yarder. He also had a nine-yard run, threw a pass and returned four punts for 49 yards.
Andre Williams had 24 carries for 131 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown.
On the defensive side, linebacker Devon Kennard had two sacks among his six tackles and forced a fumble that Markus Kuhn turned into a 26-yard return touchdown. Kennard yesterday was the first Giants rookie linebacker ever to be named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and his offensive counterpart, Ben McAdoo, held their customary Thursday news conferences today, so it was their first opportunity to talk about the first-year players since the Giants' victory.
"He is becoming smarter as a football player with the experience that he is getting," Fewell said of Kennard. "We knew he was a big, strong, powerful man. I think he is displaying that in his play, being a strong, powerful player. I think (linebackers) coach (Jim) Herrmann has done a great job of bringing him along and developing him. We are trying to take advantage of his talents and trying to use him in the right ways."
Moments later, Fewell was asked to be more specific about the recent improvement in Kennard, who had two sacks in each of the last two games.
"He is taking what he is learning in the classroom and applying it on the field," Fewell said. "In the classroom, when you ask him a question, he is pretty sharp. A lot of times when they are out there on the field and it happens fast, as a ball coach, you can see them thinking, 'Okay, I know what I am supposed to do, but I really didn't use my athleticism to do it.' He is starting to use his athleticism and executing those moves that we have talked about in the classroom. That is why I say he has become a smarter player."
Beckham's 49 receptions in the last six games are the most ever by an NFL rookie in a six-game span. So naturally, McAdoo was asked about the first-round draft choice's…passing.
On his option pass last week, Beckham demonstrated a strong arm and the ability to throw a tight spiral. But the intended receiver, his former LSU teammate Rueben Randle, was double-covered. But as is often true on such plays, the underneath receivers were open.
"That was the case there," McAdoo said "He had someone, he draws a lot of attention when he puts his hands on the ball, so he had someone down on him pretty quick. The rotation was that way, so he had to pull the trigger quickly and didn't have the chance to work to number two. We feel, in the long run, those types of plays will help us."
Beckham also leads the Giants with an 8.9-yard punt return average. His longest return has been 25 yards, but the Giants are waiting for him to break a long one, preferably resulting in a touchdown.
"Two weeks ago, almost, very, very close," Tom Coughlin replied when asked if Beckham is close to breaking one. "The other day, okay. Maybe one or two. I think closer a couple weeks ago, but he's one of those guys. He's capable at any time. Exactly where the ball's kicked, how the blocking is set up, can he get to the initial block to spring him, do we block the gunners well enough to allow him to get started? All those things are the questions."
"I am trying," Beckham said. "I have missed a couple. Definitely a lot of them were on me. I have to make the right cuts and get more vertical."
Williams got the bulk of the work at running back last week because Rashad Jennings was limited by the sprained ankle he suffered the previous week in Jacksonville. The result was the most productive game of his young career.
"I saw the nice, long run, which I was glad to see," Coughlin said. "The power, the decisiveness, the cuts, there were a couple that he probably should have made a little bit different in reaction to, but just the process, I think, of playing more, getting greater opportunities."
"He had a nice day," McAdoo said. "It was good to see him get out and be explosive on the short yardage run in space. He looked like he was consistent with his courses. He pressed it, he had good vision. You give credit to the line, the tight ends and the receivers, they all blocked well for him. Henry (Hynoski) had a good day blocking for him. He took advantage of what was there and also gained some yards after contact, which was good to see."
Beckham, Williams and Kennard have three more games to add to their impressive rookie resumes.
- Eli Manning (back) was again listed as limited on the injury report, but that appears to be a technicality.
"Eli practiced well and did everything," Coughlin said. "There wasn't any real restriction on him, so we feel good about that."
- Linebackers Jameel McClain (knee) and Mark Herzlich (concussion) practiced fully. Linebacker Jacquian Williams and tackle James Brewer continue to miss practice with concussions.