EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Life in the NFL is changing quickly for New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The first-round draft pick has gone from a player who could not get on the field because of a hamstring injury, to an exciting young talent to Giants’ No. 1 playmaker in a span of roughly three weeks.
Add in the injury to fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz and Beckham might be the most important person on the Giants’ offense, with the exception of quarterback Eli Manning. The LSU product is clearly a rising star with added potential given more playing time.
Don’t forget, the 21-year-old Beckham missed almost all of training camp, five preseason games and four regular-season games before getting on the field.
“There is going to be bumps in the road because of his youth and you try to figure everything out, and you fix it as you go, get the details right and that is really where we are right now,” Giants receivers coach Sean Ryan said. “The talent is there, it’s clear to see. Now it is the details, the details have got to come, and they have got to come quick.”
Beckham has been exciting to watch. He has averaged almost 11 yards on his 10 catches, with three going for touchdowns, including two in the Giants’ 31-21 loss to the Cowboys in Dallas on Oct. 19. He also had a 13-yard run in the game on handoff after being in motion.
Still, Beckham is learning every week.
“It is still all fast,” Beckham said. “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 rookie has made mistakes. He took the blame for the Giants having 12 men in the huddle against the Cowboys. The one thing the Giants had expected from Beckham was more downfield plays. That hasn’t happened yet. His longest catch has been for 21 yards.
Quarterbacks Coach Danny Langsdorf said the deep balls will come. “If we can get him matched up with a particular defender, or in some one on one situation, that is a valuable thing for us,” Langsdorf said. “He does have it, he is explosive, he runs good routes.”
With Cruz out for the season, the Giants need help from all their wide receivers.
Ryan challenged them to step up after Cruz went down with a knee injury a little more than a week ago.
While Beckham seemingly is the big-play threat, third-year receiver Rueben Randle is the leader of the receivers, a group that also includes Preston Parker, recently signed Kevin Ogletree and preseason sensation Corey Washington.
“I guess I need to remember he is only 23, too,” Ryan said of Randle, who leads the team with 34 catches. “He carries it with a little bit of maturity.”
“He is really trying to step up in that leadership role, so I have been happy with that,” he said.
(TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer)