EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham, Jr. woke up Monday morning feeling as you would expect after playing in his first football game in 11 months.
“I’m not going to lie, I was sore after the game,” Beckham said. “First time in, whatever how many days it was, 300-something, getting hit out there. I felt good to make it out, but I was feeling it. I was feeling it the Monday after. We’re here healthy, get back in and do your rehab, and get ready for this week.”
That would be the Giants’ encounter Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium, where they hope to earn their first victory of the season. The Giants lost their season opener to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 20-15, in Beckham’s return following ankle surgery and a long rehabilitation.
He didn’t exactly ease back into the fray. Beckham caught 11 passes for 111 yards. It wasn’t enough to lead the Giants to victory, but he is optimistic about what lies ahead.
“I was encouraged by the way that we fought against one of the better teams in the league,” Beckham said. “Unfortunately we lost, but if you look at it, the game could’ve gone either which way. We just didn’t make more plays than they made. I think we’re optimistic about it. I know everybody wanted to get the first game out the way, and now you can build off of what we left out there.”
The same can be said for Beckham’s performance. It was the fifth game in his career in which he caught at least 11 passes.
“There were a lot of things I went and looked at,” he said. “Stuff that I felt like I could’ve done better. There’s little chances we had in the game that could’ve been a difference. It’s just about connecting on them, and just getting the small details down. Whether it’s getting the depth of your route, which is something I’ve always felt like I needed to work on. So, there’s little things that I took from it. There were some good, there were some things that I know that I want to work on.”
Beckham was targeted by Eli Manning 15 times, or eight more passes than runner-up Sterling Shepard had thrown to him. Can Beckham’s body take that every week?
“I wouldn’t mind,” he said. “It is what it is. If that’s what the plays are getting called, it’s honestly at a point of whatever it’s going to take to help this team. If I need to get 15, then I need to do the most with those 15. Like I said, I was pretty sore Monday, but that’s what the whole week is for. You start recovering and you get your body right.”
Would the Giants prefer Manning to throw a relatively equal number of passes to all of the team’s receivers, or is it preferable to continually go to their hottest player?
“Yes, to both questions,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “I mean throw to the open guy and get the ball there on time and accurately. The main thing for the quarterback is make good decisions and make them on time, and obviously the physical part there is getting the ball there accurately. We don’t want the quarterback thinking about you have to throw to this guy or you’ve thrown too many times to this guy, you have to throw over there. It just happens naturally with his progressions and his reads. Then us as coaches, if there’s – obviously you’re looking for things that are good looks, and if they’re not good looks, then you have to have changeup looks off it. That’s where your quarterback is so important, to make sure he doesn’t try to force it.”
Shepard said he didn’t ask Manning if he’ll get 15 passes thrown to him in Dallas.
“No man, I just take what I can get (laughter),” he said. “Fifteen would be nice, though. That’ll be nice, I’m not going to lie (laughter).”
A year ago, the Giants suffered several injuries at wide receiver and though he missed five games, Shepard topped the position group with 84 targets (7.6 a game). With Beckham back, that number could drop.
“That’s the way it goes,” Shepard said. “You got a lot of playmakers who you got to get the ball in guy’s hands. Like I said, I just take what I can get and make do with what I get.”
*Shepard, who was limited yesterday because of back spasms, practiced fully today.
“I slept wrong or something like that,” Shepard said. “It’s nothing major, though. We’re all good.”
*Defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) again missed practice, as did cornerback Janoris Jenkins, though his absence was not injury-related. Running back Wayne Gallman (knee) and linebacker Tae Davis (hamstring) were limited.
*Dallas defensive end Demarcus Lawrence practiced fully after missing yesterday’s workout with a groin injury. Center Travis Frederick (illness), defensive end Randy Gregory (concussion) and safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) did not practice.