WR corps ready to step up with Odell sidelined again

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Pat Shurmur dislikes talking about injuries, but this discussion is unavoidable: Odell Beckham, Jr.’s quad injury will force him to miss his second consecutive game Sunday, when the Giants host the Tennessee Titans.

“He’s out,” Shurmur said. “He won’t play this week.”

The coach said Beckham had, “no setbacks, just can’t go.”

Shurmur hopes the team responds as well as it did last Sunday. With their top wideout watching the game in New Jersey, they enjoyed their largest offensive explosion in more than four years in a 40-16 rout of the Redskins in Washington.

The team’s other wide receivers – Sterling Shepard, Russell Shepard, Bennie Fowler and Corey Coleman, plus tight end Evan Engram – combined for 10 of the team’s 14 receptions (Saquon Barkley had the rest) for 170 yards and caught all three of Eli Manning’s touchdown passes.

“Any position, when you have an injury or a player’s missing, the guys need to step up, and I think they’ve done that,” Shurmur said. “It could be said for anybody that’s missing. We’ve had linebackers in and out of the lineup, same thing. A couple defensive linemen have moved in and out. Early on, it was the O-line. It’s important that when guys get their opportunities, they make the best of them, and I think that group has done it.

“(Beckham is) a very valued member of this team, but the challenge is for the guys playing in his place to do a good job. It’s a one-game basis, but the guys that did it last week did a good job. So there’s something to be learned from the experience that comes with that.”

Beckham’s 77 receptions tops the wideouts, and is one less than Barkley’s team-leading total. No. 3 on the list is Sterling Shepard, with 54 catches for 655 yards (second on the Giants) and four touchdowns. He had just two receptions in Washington, but one of them was a touchdown, and he was singled out by both Barkley and Shurmur for his blocking prowess.

In Beckham’s absence, Shepard moves up the wide receiver pecking order.

“Sterling plays both spots, and there’s plays when we’ll swap it where X (split end) plays Z (flanker), Z plays X,” Shurmur said. “So they’re all kind of trained in all the spots. He’ll just play where he plays.”

Shepard, normally the slot receiver, said, “I’ll be more outside than inside. Moving around a little bit as well. It’s a little bit more on my plate, but I’m up for the challenge.” 

The third-year pro was targeted just twice last week, but he expects that to rise with Beckham sidelined again.

“Naturally, I think that happens,” Shepard said. “Odell gets a bulk of them when he’s in there. It’s definitely room for everybody to spread the ball around. I look forward to that.”

Asked if Shepard will be targeted more often, Shurmur said, “No, we’re just looking to play offense. We’ll call a progression and Eli’s instructed to throw it to the open guy. That’s it. It’s that simple.”

What isn’t so easy is figuring out when Beckham might return. After Sunday, the Giants will have two games remaining on their schedule.

“I think it’s a day-to-day thing,” Shurmur said. “It’s been, I guess, reported a lot, he’s got a quad thing going on, so it’s day-to-day.”

*Beckham is the only player on the Giants’ injury report. Tight end Rhett Ellison, who did not

practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, worked fully today. Tackle Nate Solder (abdomen) was limited, but that doesn’t affect his availability for the game.

*Shurmur was not prepared today to commit to rookie Kyle Lauletta as Manning’s backup quarterback for the third straight game.

“We still have a couple days, so we’ll see,” he said.

*Grant Haley, the rookie free agent cornerback from Penn State, seems to have his role expanded every week. In Washington, he was on the field for 60 of the 62 defensive snaps and finished with five tackles (four solo).

Secondary coach said Lou Anarumo said Haley’s preparation has accelerated his improvement.

“I think he’s a little bit beyond his years that way,” Anarumo said. “All the guys work hard, study film and he just logs a little bit extra time knowing that he has a bigger role now. Great kid, so to all that I think anytime you’re studying more about what the offense can do to you as opposed to what your job is, it helps him in the game. And that’s kind of where he is at this point in his young career.”

*Anarumo was asked about Landon Collins’ reaction to suffering a season-ending shoulder injury two weeks ago against Chicago and the safety rotation of Curtis Riley, Michael Thomas and rookie Sean Chandler without him.

“It was hard to keep him out of the Bear game when he injured it and went back in, I think, knowing that he had something going on, to his credit, and playing for his teammates,” Anarumo said. “Obviously, it’s a void to fill. The guy is the second-leading tackler at safety in the NFL and is in the top 10, I think, overall for defensive players in tackles. You’re missing a lot of production there. The good news is for us Mike Thomas has done it before and stepped up nicely for us last week, and the combination for those guys hopefully will continue to pick up the void where Landon’s left.”

*Engram has missed five games this season with ankle and hamstring injuries, but is fourth on the team with 26 receptions.

“Injuries, those get after him a little bit,” tight ends coach Lunda Wells said. “When he gets hurt, he’s discouraged a little bit, but he keeps working hard and keeps putting himself in a position to return. It’s been up and down, but it’s been positive for him, because he’s had opportunity to make some plays as of late, which gives him that confidence that he needs.” 

*The Giants and Toyota, in partnership with the United States Marines, will hold their annual Toys for Tots drive at MetLife Stadium when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to any of the Toyota collection vehicles located at each entrance to the stadium prior to the game. Uniformed Marine Corps Reserves and volunteers will be on hand to assist in collecting the donated gifts.

Modell’s Sporting Goods has donated $2,500 worth of sports equipment to the cause and will hand out coupons to all fans who donate a toy. Coupons are redeemable at Modell’s locations only. All gifts collected during the drive will be donated to Toys for Tots, the premier community action program of the United States Marines. Over the last 50 years, the Marines have distributed over 272,000,000 toys to children across the country during the holiday season.

Since the late 1970’s, the Giants have participated in this program and hosted an annual Toys for Tots drive, helping to bring the joy of Christmas to children across the tri-state area. Once again, the Giants ask their friends and fans to join the team as we assist our neighbors in need.

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