Wide receiver Roger Lewis has been able to call Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall mentors, a position that not many other wide receivers are in.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants practiced today without four receivers who have a combined 1,303 career receptions.
Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), Brandon Marshall (shoulder), Dwayne Harris (upper body) and Tavarres King (ankle) missed the workout, two days after the Giants lost a preseason game in Cleveland, and three days prior to their home game against the Jets in the annual MetLife Bowl. Harris and King ran sprints on an adjacent field, Marshall watched the entire workout, and Beckham stayed inside to get treatment on his ankle.
In the NFL, one player’s absence is another’s opportunity, and today the primary beneficiary was Roger Lewis, Jr. The second-year pro took reps with the first-team offense for most of the practice and had several impressive receptions. “I think Roger had a great day of practice,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “Showed up ready to go. Worked hard. Got a lot of reps on the special teams and on offense. Made some nice catches down the field on some post balls and some go balls and on some flies. Had a very productive day. Took advantage of his opportunity.”
Is lining up with the first team and catching passes from Eli Manning more important than his usual role as a reserve?
“I don’t really look at that,” Lewis said. “I just look at getting better every day. That is my goal every day. At the end of the day, we got Brandon Marshall, we got a great receiver room, so my main focus is getting better every day. What do I have to do to get better?
“Every day, I am watching B. Marshall, I am watching Odell. I am watching every rep they do in practice. I go home and just watch those guys and I have questions for them every day. I am conversing with them, making sure the mental side comes along and it is starting to come along. Today was my opportunity to go and do what I am learning from those guys.”
Last season, Lewis earned a spot on the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie from Bowling Green. He played in 13 regular-season games with one start, and caught seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis said he is a different player than he was a year ago, and not only on the field.
“A year ago, I was overthinking the littlest things,” he said. “Last year, when I had a chance to talk with Eli, I would be a little bit hesitant. This year, I am not hesitant at all. This year, I am in Eli’s ear, learning through every quarterback (hand signals), learning everything, and I feel like I am getting more comfortable.”
Did he hesitate because he was a free agent rookie and Eli Manning is, well, Eli Manning?
“Yeah, he always told me don’t be hesitant,” Lewis said. “But at the end of the day, I know he is an outgoing guy, so I was just overthinking the stuff that I shouldn’t have.
“Right now, I am not overthinking. If I make a mistake, I go to Eli or go to one of the quarterbacks and say, ‘What should I do on this, what should I do or not?’ Eli is telling me do this on this route, make sure this is seven steps, make sure this might be 6½. I’m just learning from those guys.”
Lewis had one reception in each of the Giants’ first two preseason games. He could get a lot of playing time vs. the Jets, particularly after his performance in practice today.
“I think I did pretty well,” he said. “It is going to be a learning process. I’m still talking with Eli. I’m still talking to my coach. I am learning a lot from (receivers) coach (Adam) Henry. I am just going day by day, to be honest. It’s not a surprise that I had a good day today. This is what I do at the end of the day. I have been doing it my whole life.
“Last year, I was overthinking stuff coming in and I was letting a lot of distractions distract me with the game. Coach McAdoo preaches, ‘Keep the main thing the main thing.’ That is my maturity thing for this year, keeping the main thing the main thing.”
*McAdoo had virtually the same response to the several questions he fielded about the condition of Beckham, who injured his ankle in the second quarter in Cleveland.
“He’s got an ankle,” McAdoo said. “He is in there getting treatment. We are taking it day by day.”
*The Giants did not score a touchdown in either of the first two preseason games; all of their scoring has come on six field goals.
“We are not happy about it,” McAdoo said. “We are working at it. That’s how we have to address it. We have to come out, we have to put our work in, and we have to improve on the practice field and get it to carry over to game day. Just because you want something to happen doesn’t mean it is going to happen. You have to work at it.”
*Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie took some snaps at safety against the Browns, but doesn’t expect it to be a regular occurrence. “It was just a one-time thing,” DRC said. “We’re just getting looks everywhere, seeing what kind of packages we could use. But I definitely don’t think I’d be back there like that.”
*Cornerback Valentino Blake is on the left squad list