EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham Jr.'s bright star has been temporarily eclipsed, but the other Giants receivers are confident they will shine in his absence.
Beckham will miss the Giants' game tomorrow night in frosty Minnesota as he serves his one-game NFL suspension for his actions in the loss to Carolina last Sunday. The second-year pro has been the team's most productive player, with 91 catches for 1,396 yards and 13 touchdowns, the latter figure tying a franchise record.
Without him, Eli Manning will look to the other wideouts, including Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, Hakeem Nicks, Myles White, and perhaps rookies Geremy Davis and Ben Edwards, who joined the active roster this week.
"We'll be fine," the always-calm Manning said. "We've got guys; (it's a) great opportunity for other guys to step up. We'll run our offense and go about our business. The guys know what they're doing, guys know the routes, guys know how to get open, and we'll go about it and make plays."
The aforementioned receivers have totaled 97 receptions for 859 yards, and 10 scores.
"We definitely have to take advantage," said Randle, who leads the other receivers with 51 catches, 638 yards and six touchdowns. "We know how much he (Beckham) wants to be here with us, and from the type of player he is, he really wants to be here. So we just have to go out there and play for him."
"I'm just excited to go out and play football," Harris said. "Odell is just one piece of the puzzle, and we've got other guys that can play, too. We're just going to go out, do our job and play football."
Perhaps the most intriguing receiver in the group is Nicks, the former first-round draft choice who returned to the Giants Nov. 17. He has caught one pass in each of the four games in which he's played. But without Beckham at his disposal, Manning could look to the player who has caught more of his passes than any other.
"Anytime an opportunity comes, you want to take full advantage of it, that's how I look at it," Nicks said. "This is a great opportunity for me. I was always told when an opportunity knocks at the door, you've got to answer. So I'm answering.
"I feel like the knowledge of the offense and everything, I'm definitely a lot faster in the offense. I'm grasping things a lot quicker. I think I'm ready for whatever comes my way."
The wide receivers will not be asked to compensate for Beckham's absence alone. The Giants will be very happy if their rushing attack emulates its production of last week, when they ran for a season-high 161 yards, including 107 by Rashad Jennings. In the passing game, running back Shane Vereen (51 catches) and rookie tight end Will Tye (34) have become frequent Manning targets.
"Young guys will be put in position to make plays, and we're going to run our normal offense," Manning said. "We'll put guys in a position to do what they do well, and to get open. We'll have to make plays, but we've got guys who can do that."
But no one makes plays quite like Beckham. Manning has six completions this season covering 50 or more yards (all for touchdowns). Beckham has five of them (Jennings has the other, on a 51-yard catch-and-run in Buffalo). He brings game-changing ability no one else can match.
Tom Coughlin was asked to identify "one guy" he would count on to make big plays without Beckham. Naturally, his answer wasn't limited to one player.
"Rueben comes to mind, but Harris has made plays for us in the past," Coughlin said. "Hakeem has made great catches for us in the past. Obviously, the opportunity is going to be there for everybody to contribute. Will Tye has made some nice plays for us. Coming out of the backfield, Shane has done a nice job."
If Washington loses to Philadelphia tonight, the Giants must defeat Minnesota to keep their NFC East title hopes alive (they are eliminated if the Redskins win). The Giants will miss Beckham, but are confident they can prevail without him. But it won't be up to just the receivers or the offense. It will require a total team effort, a concept Coughlin constantly emphasizes, but never more than when he addressed the team this week.
"The bond that occurs between teammates when they're challenged, and this certainly is a challenge," Coughlin said. "We've got to pull together and get contributions from everyone. It was a few weeks ago, we were getting takeaways and those takeaways helped us a lot. That hasn't happened of late. So to have a defensive score, or a number of takeaways, have a continuous contribution from special teams. All those things are going to help.
"I hope to be able to make a statement about our football team going forward. Facing a challenge, facing adversity, many, many guys have got to step up."
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Vikings