The Minnesota Vikings are paying attention to the New York Giants passing game as a whole – one that ranks fifth in the NFL – but they won’t get involved in trying to antagonize emotional receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants’ leading receiver, who is infamous for his in-game brawling with Josh Norman last year, is back to his productive ways. But between a $36,000 fine from a Week 2 crackback block and his outbursts on the Giants sidelines on Sunday, the Vikings could have a psychological edge over him during tense times in their Monday night matchup.
“We try to do things a certain way here. We try to play smart football, do things right,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “Obviously we try to win the game the best way we can, but we’re not into that other stuff. We just go about our business and try to win.”
During moments of frustration, Beckham slammed his helmet into a kicking net (it bounced back and left a cut on his face) and teammates and coaches spent time trying to calm him Sunday in a loss to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo even said during a conference call Monday that Beckham is a distraction to himself, teammates and coaches when he allows his competitive nature to get the best of him.
Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, however, appreciates Beckham’s competitiveness.
“He just wants to win and you can see the frustration in his eyes when they’re losing or things aren’t going their way,” Munnerlyn said. “He’s very competitive and he can always play for me if I was a coach.”
Beckham ranks first in Giants history for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns by a player in his first two seasons with 187 catches for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns. This year, he also leads the Giants in targets (30), catches (19) and yards (280).
But his emotions spilling over on the sidelines have caused several Giants to respond.
“Emotionally on the sideline in between the series, he needs to do a better job. That’s all of our responsibilities, mine included,” McAdoo told reporters. “But he needs to control his emotions better and be less of a distraction to himself and his teammates. It’s our job to help him with that process.”
Munnerlyn said he won’t try to irritate Beckham’s emotions on the field, unless of course the receiver tries to start something.
“I don’t get into that, things like that. I don’t get into going back and forth with a person like that, unless you start with me,” Munnerlyn said with a smile. “I’m not going to get into all that. I’m just going to play football, compete. He’s a very competitive guy and I’m competitive. We’ll just go out there between the lines and go at each other.”
The Vikings easily won the meeting between the two teams last year, a 49-17 blowout in Minnesota during a cold December game, but the Giants didn’t have any of their top three receivers this year – Beckham, Sterling Shepard or Victor Cruz – for that game.
Munnerlyn said he wanted the Vikings defense to face Beckham then.
“We wanted to play against the best and he’s one of the best in the league,” Munnerlyn said. “His route-running ability is outstanding and the way he catches the ball, he’s got great hands. We definitely wanted to play against one of the best. He didn’t play against us, so we know this year he’ll want to show that they really missed him last year.”