5 players to watch against the Saints
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants take on the Saints, Sunday at home
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – He is tied for fifth in the NFL with 24 receptions, he is 12th in the league with 271 yards, and tied for second with eight third-down catches. But because his longest gain is 30 yards and he has yet to score a touchdown, Odell Beckham, Jr. is still waiting for that otherworldly play or game-changing performance that have distinguished his Giants tenure.
Instead, Beckham today characterized his performance as efficient, not a word usually associated with someone who plays so flamboyantly.
“I’m always waiting to break out,” Beckham said today. “I always feel like I’m one play away, always feel like at any moment in time it could be a shallow, it could be a deep pass, it could be a slant, it could go 80 (yards), it could 60, it could go wherever. Honestly, I’ve been watching, and I’ve been feeling and talking to myself, and there’s still been times where you’re coming back (from last year’s ankle injury) and I’m used to everything, but you’re scared to just hit it like you used to. I saw one opportunity that I missed and I was upset about it, it was a slant and it cleared out for me and it was perfect, and I kind of slowed down and hesitated for a second, and that could’ve been the difference. Those are the ones that go 60 or 70, so I was a little upset by that. But I think I’m just – I don’t want to say just starting to get the feel back. ..., but I feel like I said this word, ‘efficient.’ I feel very efficient, and I’m just in a completely different place.”
The play to which Beckham referred occurred last week, in the Giants’ 27-22 victory in Houston. He caught nine passes for 109 yards, but it was the one he didn’t take full advantage of that still bothers him.
“I caught an inside slant and the way that they were playing coverage, they usually had a safety who was kind of over the top,” Beckham said. “He was kind of robbing it or doing whatever it is, and I went to hit it and I just had a feeling that he was going to be closing in on me. As I kind of hesitated, the DB caught up and that’s a play that I can’t get back. But I will be thinking about for a long time, every time I watch the film.”
Asked why he hesitated, Beckham said, “I just think that’s part of getting back into it. Third game, it’s going to come. When it rains, it pours.”
Beckham, however, insisted he’s not frustrated, and that he is close to being the player he wants to be.
“It’s right there,” he said. “The fact that I can know and acknowledge it is a big step. Like I said, I think it was in the second quarter and I just felt it. I just was like, if you just would’ve ran all the way, you would’ve had that extra step, you could’ve hit that gear. It reminded me of the exact play, it was the Jets, I think it was in 2016 (actually, 2015) or something like that, I caught it, took the slant 70 or whatever, and that was the exact play. I just could remember and feel it, and now that I know, I think that was a big step for me.”
Beckham’s next chance to make a big play, and score his first touchdown since last Oct. 8, the day he was hurt, comes Sunday, when the Giants host the New Orleans Saints.
“I love being in the end zone,” he said. “It has been a while. It’s been a while even just being on the field, so getting in the end zone, of course, I want to get in there but when it comes, it’s going to come.”
*Four Giants did not practice today: tight end Evan Engram (knee), defensive lineman Damon Harrison (knee), wide receiver Cody Latimer (knee), and running back Jonathan Stewart (knee).
Harrison has started 39 consecutive regular-season games, the Giants’ longest active streak.
“I wouldn’t be worried about Snacks,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’ll be there.”
Linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) was again limited, as were four plays who did not practice yesterday: cornerback Eli Apple (groin), linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), wide receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring), and cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin).
Vernon, who missed the season’s first three games, said he “feels great, making progress and that’s the goal, make progress.” But he declined to say if he thinks he is closer to returning to the field.
“Just going day by day, trying to get better,” he said.
*Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey didn’t know Aldrick Rosas when he was hired, but he has been impressed with the kicker’s work. Rosas has made all seven of his field goal attempts and all four of his extra point tries.
“He’s doing a great job,” McGaughey said. “You always need a little fine tuning, and he’s finding his way. That’s what happens with these young guys at each position, they’re all trying to find their way and he’s in a groove. We’re just trying to keep him in the same spot and not do a whole lot of thinking, and just go out and swing at the ball.”