EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham Jr. was being baited about baiting today, but he refused to take the, uh, bait.
The Giants' second-year wide receiver and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year has been the primary target this season of opposing defenses, who assign multiple defenders to minimize his production and maximize his frustration. The first part of the equation hasn't been an overwhelming success; Beckham leads the Giants with 24 catches, 10 more than any of the team's other wideouts.
But the second part is open to debate. After the Giants defeated Buffalo on Sunday, 24-10, some of the Bills defenders called Beckham a "prima donna," and accused him of throwing punches in the game.
Beckham was fined by the league for the extracurricular activity. We know this because when he was asked if he would appeal, he said, "Of course." He clearly believes the financial reprimand was unwarranted.
"I get punched every single game or 'punched' or whatever it is," he said. "I get hit in my face every single game. Like I said, it is what it is, but we're playing football and these are grown men out here. I don't think anybody should be talking about what happened after they lost the game."
Which brings us back to whether the Bills were trying to bait Beckham into such a response. Beckham was asked if he is confident he could control his emotions in such situations.
"I feel like I do a pretty good job," he said. "I don't remember getting any flags last game or one for offensive holding or something. I didn't have any penalties during the game, so controlling my emotions isn't really any of my concern."
But Beckham conceded it's not always easy to stay in check. Who, after all, wouldn't want to defend himself when opposing players are coming after you, and instigating confrontations?
"It's tough," Beckham said. "It's tough to walk the line. You know that they're out there targeting you and they're trying to do things to you, as much as somebody wants to say that they're not, they are, and that's just the case. Like I said, we're out there to play football and that's all I came here to do, to play football and do whatever this team needs."
Beckham can help the team even if he doesn't catch passes simply by attracting a convoy of defenders.
"That's good for us, I love that," Beckham said. "If I can draw two guys on one play, if I can draw seven guys on a fake reverse and we have a big play, I did my job."
Although the Bills complained about him, Beckham received strong support from the Giants. Beckham today visited general manager Jerry Reese, who, Beckham said, told him, "Just keep doing your job, we love everything."
Beckham also spoke to coach Tom Coughlin.
"He's an emotional guy," Coughlin said. "Hey, let's face it, I told him, 'I want you to continue to block the way you're blocking." He flies around out there. Even the penalty he got called on the screen, he did an outstanding job.
"He's very competitive, very energetic. He would have blocked the safety on the long run, the long pass and run after the catch if in fact Rashad (Jennings) wasn't able to avoid him. He was right there."
Quarterback Eli Manning said he has no issues with how Beckham has responded to being targeted.
"I think he wants to go out there and do well," Manning said. "He plays hard, practices hard and he wants to be great and he's emotional about it and he takes it very serious and I think that's a good way to play football. "
Beckham plays football with rare passion and emotion, which opponents, fans and the media can sometimes believe is cockiness. Not true, Beckham said.
"I think it's hard for me, because people who know me know I came here to play football," he said. "I love football, there's nothing more to it than that. I just love this game. I'm very confident in my ability. I know what I've been given, I know my responsibilities that I have. A lot of people take that as people have built me up to be right here and they hear so much about me that I don't know if they hear so much about other people. So now, 'He's what they're talking about now, I can make my name off of him. Or I could do whatever I need to do to get in that light.' Honestly, like I said, I came here to do whatever this team needs me to do. If they need me to block 70 plays a game, that's what I'm here to do. If they want to catch 60 balls a game, I'll do that as well. It doesn't really bother me either which way."
The moral of the story is the Giants want Beckham to keep doing what he's doing.
- Six Giants did not practice today as the Giants began preparing for their game Sunday night at home against San Francisco: defensive ends Robert Ayers (hamstring) and George Selvie (calf); linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring); cornerbacks Jayron Holsey (concussion) and Trumaine McBride (groin); and wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf).
Kennard left the Buffalo game in the second half after feeling a twinge in his hamstring.
"It's day to day," he said. "I've probably iced it 100 times since our last game, and I'm just trying to get it right and doing whatever the trainers tell me, and hopefully I'll be back soon."
Kennard is not ruling out playing vs. the 49ers.
"I'm hopeful, just because I want to be out there with my team," Kennard said. "I love the way that we're playing, I love what we have going on, and if there's any way possible I can play on Sunday, I will. I'm going to be listening to the trainers and seeing how it feels every day."
Tight end Jerome Cunningham (knee) was limited.
Tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) practiced fully.