"This is the week, right? This is the week you get into the end zone?"
"I don't know," he responded. "You seem more concerned about the end zone than me."
That is how Odell Beckham Jr.'s media availability began on Thursday. Beckham entered this season having scored 38 touchdowns in 47 career games. Through four games in 2018, he has yet to cross the goal line. The same was true for his historic rookie campaign in 2014, but the major difference was he did not play in those first four games because of injury. His current drought is the second-longest of his career in terms of games, however. He didn't find the end zone in five consecutive games from the 2015 season finale through Week 4 the following year. Nevertheless, Beckham is not concerned.
"I missed four games my rookie year and still came back and did what I did," said Beckham, who went on to catch 12 touchdowns in 12 games. "The end zone, it'll come."
His woes are the team's woes. The Giants are averaging just 18.3 points per game, the fourth-lowest in the NFL, and quarterback Eli Manning has thrown just four touchdowns to one interception.
"Frustration, I don't know if that's the right word," Beckham said. "It's just a matter of when it's going to click. Like I said, we missed the first quarter of the season, we can't have it back, but there's still another three quarters. It's about making the most of those. At any point in time, you could win seven games in a row, then you're sitting at what, 8-3? I always say this, you could've won the first eight and lost the first eight. It's just about when you catch fire."
The 1-3 Giants will have to bring plenty of kindling and perhaps a flamethrower to Bank of America Stadium, where the 2-1 Panthers are undefeated this season and have allowed just 29 points combined to Dallas and Cincinnati. On top of that, the defense will be fresh after an early bye week and feeding off the energy of a Carolina crowd that has not seen its team lose at home since Week 6 of last season for a streak of seven games. Beckham said there needs to be a sense of urgency on the Giants' part.
"If it isn't felt, it needs to be felt," Beckham said. "We need to come out like I said when we were in Houston, we just need to have that energy. The word that I'm going to keep repeating is 'energy.' It's about energy, it's about the way you come in here every day to work, the way that we all vibe and bond together. Being a team isn't about one person scoring touchdowns, it's about the little stuff. It's about the locker room, the vibe, everything – just bringing that energy a little more than what we have already."
While Beckham searches for the end zone, Sterling Shepard has found it the last two weeks. The third-year wide receiver caught Manning's late touchdown pass that sealed the victory in Houston and followed it up with another score on the Giants' opening drive against New Orleans. They will need him against a Panthers defense allowing 4.5 yards after catch per reception, the lowest in the NFL.
"When we have the athletes that we have and the guys that we have – after the catch, I don't think we're like anybody in the league when it comes to after the catch," said Shepard. "We won't worry about that until it happens."
Shepard was asked if shots downfield open up things for him underneath.
"I think it can, but you don't want to just waste a down just throwing the ball up by trying to get people off of you," Shepard said. "You want to put together a nice little scheme. That's what you do sometimes, but guys are playing us deep, and that's how they've been playing us since the beginning of the season. So, you just take what the defense gives you, and get it to your playmakers, and they'll make plays."
*Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon continues to be limited in practice like he was all last week with the ankle injury he suffered in practice in late August. Vernon, who has not played yet this season, said the training staff is just taking it "day-to-day" with him. What does he have to prove to get on the field in a game?
"Prove to myself is the number one priority, but then also showing them that I'm capable of making certain plays that you don't want to be a liability out there," Vernon said. "It's just basically showing the coaches you're capable of making the cuts when you have to or inside stunts and stuff like that."
*Cornerback Eli Apple, who suffered a groin injury in Week 2 and sat out the last two games, was upgraded to a full participant in Thursday's practice after being limited the day before. Outside linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), cornerback Antonio Hamilton (groin) and wide receiver/kick returner Cody Latimer (knee) were also full-go. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison (knee) was limited.
*The Giants switched wide receivers on their practice squad, signing Quadree Henderson and releasing Amba Eta-Tawo. Henderson, 5-8 and 192 pounds, was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers on May 4 and released on Sept. 1. He played three seasons (2015-17) at the University of Pittsburgh, where he finished his career with a school-record seven return touchdowns – four on kickoff returns and three on punts. He averaged 26.6 yards on 73 kickoff returns and 13.4 yards on 37 punt returns. Henderson also rushed for 887 yards and caught 45 passes for 473 yards. In 2017, he led the Panthers with 1,204 all-purpose yards.
"Production – he's a sure-handed guy," special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said of Henderson as a return specialist. "He obviously had a lot of production in college and we like what we saw on tape and his pro day, like we saw there, so he has a lot of potential like any young guy that had a lot of production in college. We'd like to see what he does at the next level."