Just a few weeks ago the sky felt like the limit for the Giants offense. Getting good production from both the running and passing phases and coming off a third straight victory, the icing on the cake was a breathtaking debut from rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. With a mix of star veterans like Eli Manning and Victor Cruz and emerging talents like Larry Donnell, the Giants appeared to have the luxury of bedding Beckham into the offense at a comfortable pace.
Just one week later, Victor Cruz has his season end prematurely and the script has changed. Beckham answered the call in a big way in the Giants’ first full game this season post-Cruz, grabbing two of Manning’s three touchdown passes. In short time, Beckham suddenly has seen his expectations increase in a big way, with receivers coach Sean Ryan telling Beckham this week “your rookie season is over… you’re a veteran.”
“They tell me each and every day that you are a vet now and you need to carry yourself as one and play as one,” Beckham said of the expectations placed on him. “The whole routine as a [veteran player]. I am trying my best to step up and do whatever I can to help this team.”
Beckham has answered the call to any challenges put to him thus far, but the Giants coaches know that they run a risk in putting too much on Beckham’s plate too early given that he missed essentially all of preseason and the first quarter of the regular season. Beckham, however, feels pretty confident that he has caught up.
“[I feel caught up] to an extent,” Beckham said. “I have three games under my belt, but that is no preseason or training camp so I am still trying to get my football legs underneath me.”
In this regard the bye week comes at the perfect time for Beckham, but he does admit that everything does seem to be happening quite fast.
“It is still all fast,” Beckham said of his experience in the league so far. “It is the NFL. Everything is moving fast. I still have to catch myself from time-to-time telling myself to slow down. I think it is natural when you are young like that and you are coming onto a new level to just try and slow it down. It is a difficult thing to do sometimes.”
The mental adjustment in the NFL for rookies is often the most difficult part, but Beckham’s impressive start is an indication that he has handled the adjustment with aplomb so far and has earned a bigger role regardless of Cruz’s injury. His physical talents can help out the Giants a lot on offense right now, especially given New York is in the bottom half in the league in creating “chunk” passing plays (measuring such plays as completed passes of over 20 yards). Showing incredibly impressive body control and an ability to pluck the ball out of the air, Beckham has already been a big threat in the red zone. Going forward, expect Beckham’s speed and ability with the ball in the hands to be something the Giants utilize as well. He may not be ready to be Victor Cruz, but Beckham’s impressive confidence for a rookie and ability to match it will serve the Giants offense well the second half of the season.