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Giants-Bengals Preview; Beckham Jr. primed for first preseason



CINCINNATI** – Odell Beckham Jr. is the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he will share a new experience with the Giants' current first-year players Friday night when he makes his preseason debut.

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A year ago, Beckham missed the team's five-game preseason because of a hamstring injury. Now healthy after his sensational rookie season, Beckham will be on the field when the Giants meet the Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium.

"I've never played in a preseason game," Beckham said Thursday. "I actually had to ask, 'What do we have to wear to the games?' and stuff like that, because I honestly didn't know. I was at home every weekend. Every time they were traveling, I was at home. I got to go to the (home) preseason games last year, but never had been a part of the whole thing. This is all kind of new to me as well."

Beckham relishes any opportunity to play football, but he is particularly looking forward to this game, because Jeremy Hill, his good friend and former LSU teammate, plays for the Bengals.

"I think the biggest thing I'm looking forward to is hearing that National Anthem and getting on the field again," Beckham said. "There's just something about it, it broke me down the first time I got on the field. I don't know what it's going to do this time. But I am looking forward to being able to line up and see 32 (Hill) across the other way, and hopefully get to see him do a little something, and just keep it moving from there."

Beckham and the rest of the Giants' starters are expected to play no more than two or three series.

"That's the tough part," Beckham said. "It's tough being competitive and feeling like you didn't get anything done, and you're only in there for however long you're going to be in there for. Just watch these other guys who are going to be playing, and cheer on my teammates."

Players on the Cincinnati Bengals

That includes this year's draft class, whose members will play their first professional game: tackle Ereck Flowers, safeties Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson, defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, wide receiver Geremy Davis and guard Bobby Hart.

Flowers and Collins are expected to start.

"I'm excited, first game, so I came in, got some good work," said the soft-spoken Flowers. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's going to be good for me to play any game I dress up in. I'm not the type of guy to want to miss games. It's a big deal."

Flowers said he is fully recovered from the hip flexor injury that forced him to miss a couple of practices last week.

"It's gotten a lot better than what it was," he said.

The Giants traded with the Tennessee Titans so they could select Collins with the first pick in the second round of the draft. The former University of Alabama star filled a need, and the preseason opener will be another step toward what could be an uninterrupted journey to the starting lineup.

"I'm excited, not nervous," Collins said. "It's a game. I've been doing it for my whole life, there's no reason to be nervous about it. Just ready to get on the field and play with my boys and have fun."

Collins was one of several rookies who said practicing with the Bengals for two days this week will make it easier for them when they play their first game.

"It gives you more confidence in yourself that you don't have to worry about the offense being a tougher opponent and having all these keys to worry about," Collins said. "Just know your concepts and do what you do best. Seeing their offense, it widens your game for us to get ready to play."

"Going against another opponent, another offensive line, just gauging how you are, it's definitely been useful for me," Odighizuwa said. "(I'm) taking full advantage of it and working as hard as I can to be prepared. I think it's going to be a lot of fun tomorrow."

Odighizuwa, a third-round selection from UCLA, and Thompson, a fourth-round choice from Texas, said the game is a milestone event, even if it is a preseason game.

"It's definitely a big deal for me," he said. "Obviously, (it's) my first NFL game. So I'm excited about it, it's going to be a great opportunity for me. I've been working as hard as I can all week to put myself in the best situation to succeed. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

"Of course, I'm going to be nervous," Thompson said. "It's not the first official, but it's my first chance to debut my skills in the NFL."

  • Eli Manning certainly won't be nervous. He said he never is on a football field, and opening preseason games don't cause anxiety for 12-year veterans.

"You just try to come out, be sharp on the things we've been working on in training camp," Manning said. "Just our precision on our routes, the timing of things, and come out there and be efficient. Convert some third downs, and just play the game. You don't know what defense or coverages might come out, just stick to your rules and try to get some first downs."

  • The Giants are 24-21 in preseason games under Tom Coughlin, including 5-0 last year.
  • The Giants and Bengals will meet in the preseason for the first time since 1998 and the fourth time overall. The Giants won the previous three games, in Giants Stadium in 1992 and '98 and in Cincinnati in 1993.
  • The Giants are 36-26-3 in preseason openers since 1950.
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