*Giants wide receiver Roger Lewis is now the number one receiver on the field: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Roger Lewis Jr. this week received a promotion he didn't request.
The Giants had five wide receivers in uniform last week against the Los Angeles Chargers. Four of them suffered injuries, three of them ending their seasons. The only wideout standing at the end of the game was Lewis, a second-year pro who made the team last season as a rookie free agent from Bowling Green. When the Giants face the Broncos in Denver on Sunday night, Lewis, who has played all of 18 career games, will be the team's most experienced receiver.
"He goes from being the fourth or fifth guy, young guy, now he is the elder statesman," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. "He's a versatile player. He's a guy that has made plays for us. Had a heck of a play the other day. He's smart and, of course, the versatility is something that we'll be relying upon to be able to move him around and help the other guys as well."
Lewis said his new responsibility will not alter his approach.
"I prepare every week like a number one receiver," he said. "I prepare and go hard every practice, and I'm not going to change anything, I'm just going to go out and do what I've been doing since I was five years old."
As Sullivan noted, he did it last week, when his one reception was a nifty 29-yard touchdown on the left side of the end zone. This season, he has eight catches for 102 yards. His career totals are 15 catches for 199 yards, and three scores.
"It felt great, with the touchdown catch," Lewis said. "But it's over with, and I want to win. We lost that game and I want to get a win. I'm itching for a win right now."
As is everybody on the team. While everyone on the team is confident they can earn their first victory this week, the question the football public is asking is, "Can the Giants win with their young and untested cast of wide receivers?"
Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Dwayne Harris (foot) underwent surgery this week and are out for the season. Sterling Shepard also injured his ankle and has not practiced this week.
"It's kind of different (in practice), because I was able to talk to those guys on the field," Lewis said. "But now I've got to talk to them off the field, and call them and stuff like that. It's kind of different. But I'm growing up and I'm ready to take the challenge."
Lewis was asked what he thought about the Broncos' cornerbacks watching him on tape, instead of Beckham and Marshall.
"It's pretty interesting, but at the end of the day, I knew one day this would happen," he said. "One day someone will be looking at film and trying to figure out what I'm doing. So it's not a surprise."
The absences of the veteran receivers leave the Giants with the unlikely receiver quartet of Lewis, Tavarres King (re-signed on Monday, three weeks after he was waived), Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan (both signed off the practice squad this week). Tight ends Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison are also expected to line up at receiver.
"We have some young guys that have to step up," Sullivan said. "(Those) guys who have had a chance to be involved in training camp and preseason, and they'll get their opportunities. We have an offense, we have a system, and we just try to find the best way to give those guys a chance to be successful and play to their strengths."
After Lewis, King is the Giants' most seasoned wideout. He has played in nine regular-season games and one postseason contest. King had almost as many receptions in the NFC Wild Card Game – three, including his only professional touchdown – as he has in the regular season (four). Because he had a hamstring injury, King played in only one preseason game this summer. The Giants waived him on Sept. 2.
"Great to have T.K.," Sullivan said. "He was someone that was on our roster last year. Obviously, had a heck of a big play against Green Bay in the playoff game last year. Didn't work out as far as him being on the initial 53, but he's taken good care of himself. He's in great shape. He looks fast and, of course, his familiarity with what we do is something that we're going to be relying upon."
Rudolph had nine receptions for 157 yards in the preseason. Eagan, who joined the team on August 18, caught one pass for 19 yards.
"Both of them have had a lot of work throughout the early part of the year on the (scout) team," Sullivan said. "They do a lot of running and a lot of the fundamentals of route running and catching the football and so forth, have been good. Now they had a chance to get more involved in our offense. They're out there, they're getting plays and signals from Eli (Manning). So, excited for the opportunity both those young guys have. We'll have them to rely upon, trust their training, trust their preparation and go out and have fun and enjoy that moment."