NFC East: Odell Beckham Jr.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Charles Woodson believes Calvin Johnson is still one of the best receivers in the NFL.

When he was asked who the best receiver in the league is right now, though, he started gushing about someone else – and someone who caught Johnson’s attention this season – Odell Beckham Jr.

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“Calvin is definitely at the top,” Woodson said following a wine tasting for TwentyFour Wines at Plum Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I think it’s remarkable what this young kid from New York did this year, Odell Beckham. It’s pretty impressive.

“There’s always great athletes but for a guy to come out and kind of make that splash the way he did, it’s kind of Randy Moss-esque.”

Woodson said some of the catches Beckham made were extremely impressive. The Giants rookie receiver leapt into the conversation among the league’s best receivers after a one-handed fingertip catch against Dallas. It was a catch at which Johnson marveled as well.

The catch was merely part of a rookie season where Beckham had 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. Beckham’s numbers were comparable to Moss’ rookie season, when he had 69 catches for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns. Moss, though, played in all 16 games for the Vikings in 1998.

Beckham finished 10th in the league in receiving yards and along with Johnson (16th, 1,077 yards) and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (20th, 1,041 yards) were the only receivers in the top 20 who played in less than 15 games. Beckham also finished tied for ninth in receptions and tied for fourth in touchdowns.

Beckham already has vaulted himself into the discussion of best receiver in the league, along with such players as Dez Bryant, Johnson and Green.

“There’s a lot of good guys out there,” Woodson said. “A.J. Green. As you mentioned, Dez Bryant. Those guys at the top.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. is so good, he might need only three-quarters of a season to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Beckham is now the favorite to win the award at 1-2, according to odds released by Bovada on Wednesday. Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is the second choice at 2-1, followed by Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin (7-1) and Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (25-1).

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The Giants' young phenom was not available in the locker room after practice Wednesday, but veteran teammate Antrel Rolle was asked whether Beckham should win the award.

"There's no doubt about it," Rolle said. "There's been some rookies out there obviously making some splash -- Mike Evans, a couple other names. But what Odell has done in a short period of time -- obviously he battled some injuries at the beginning of the year, but the sky's the limit for this guy. I think what he's done for this team and just for the league itself has been phenomenal, and I'm not just saying that because he's my teammate."

"Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, you name it -- I definitely put him up there right now with the elite receivers in this league," Rolle added.

Despite missing the entire preseason and the first four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury, Beckham has 71 catches for 972 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games.

Evans, in three more games, has fewer catches (59) and yards (948), and just two more touchdowns (11).

Beckham's per-game averages of 7.1 receptions, 97.2 receiving yards and 0.9 touchdowns are the highest among rookies in a season dating to 2001, per ESPN Stats & Information.

"He's been playing at a high level these last few weeks," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Hopefully he can continue to make plays for us."

Manning was a little more diplomatic when asked about Beckham's Rookie of the Year candidacy.

"I haven’t seen all the other performances, so I’m probably not qualified to give that answer," Manning said. "[Beckham's] played very strong and played well for us, and so definitely should be in contention, I would think."

Beckham already owns the Giants' record for receiving yards by a rookie, breaking Jeremy Shockey's record of 894 yards. Barring injury, he almost certainly will surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season this Sunday in St. Louis, but the Rams' defense should pose a challenge -- they haven't given up a touchdown the past three weeks and are ranked 10th in the NFL against the pass (232.4 yards allowed per game).

"I think there’s a physical challenge every week for the number of roles that [Beckham] plays," coach Tom Coughlin said. "But this certainly will be one, and each week he grows and develops and he sees new things, and that may very well be the case this week."

The best news of all might be that, despite all the attention Beckham is getting, he hasn't developed a swelled head, according to his quarterback.

"No, I think he’s done a good job," Manning said. "He practices hard. He does a lot of things correctly. ... He’s done everything the right way."
New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had his best game yet Monday night, with eight catches for 156 yards against the Indianapolis Colts.

Now he faces his biggest challenge so far -- a matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, and more specifically the Legion of Boom.

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Seattle's secondary was the primary reason the team won the Super Bowl last season, and it's a strong unit again this year -- headlined by cornerback Richard Sherman.

Sherman may be lined up opposite Beckham frequently on Sunday, but Giants quarterback Eli Manning believes the rookie is up to the challenge.

"Yeah, I think Odell Beckham has done some really good things," Manning said Wednesday, on a conference call with reporters. "I think he is up for whatever challenge is thrown at him. And he is still growing as a player, but I think he definitely does some good things and we need him to keep getting better and keep making plays for us."

Beckham has only played in four NFL games, missing the first four of the season because of a hamstring injury that also sidelined him for the entire preseason. But he's obviously a fast learner. He already has three touchdown catches, in addition to the breakout game against the Colts, and appears to be Manning's best weapon now that Victor Cruz is out for the rest of the year.

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And Beckham is looking forward to facing Sherman & Co. this weekend.

"These are the games you live to play for, the moments you live to play for -- to go against the best of the best, to go against Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks and the L.O.B." Beckham said. "Why not embrace that opportunity? Why not take the challenge, accept it and face it?"

It won't be easy. The Seahawks' defense is ranked sixth against the pass this season (221.9 yards per game), and fourth against the run (83.0). Starting cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Kam Chancellor both missed last week's win against the Raiders due to injury, but at least Chancellor is expected to return this week. Meanwhile, Sherman currently sports the fourth-highest rating of all cornerbacks in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

"I am never going to back down from anyone," Beckham said. "He has some experience. He is a big, athletic guy that wants to press at the line. Those are all things he does well, so you have to try to find, as few as there are, you have to try and find those weaknesses that he has. At the end of the day, it is football. You have to go out and play football and give it your best. Whatever happens, happens."

Neither player lacks confidence, that's for sure. This will certainly be a fun matchup to watch.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Looking for a bright side to the New York Giants' lopsided, 40-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night?

Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had his first 100-yard game as a pro, with eight receptions for 156 yards.

Yes, much of that came late in the game, with the outcome really no longer in doubt, but Beckham looked good nonetheless.

"To me, it means nothing without a win [though]," Beckham said. "I made a few plays, but, like I said, at the end of the day it's still a loss."

[+] EnlargeNew York's Odell Beckham Jr.
Al Bello/Getty ImagesRookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had his best game as a pro on "Monday Night Football," catching eight passes for 156 yards.
Beckham had just one catch for 19 yards in the first half -- a half in which the Giants had eight offensive possessions but managed to accumulate only seven first downs. Seven of those eight possessions ended with a punt, as the Colts took a 16-3 lead into the locker room.

His big play came in the third quarter -- a 59-yard catch and run that set the Giants up for their only touchdown of the game. On a first-and-10 from the Giants' own 16-yard line, Eli Manning connected with Beckham on the right sideline, and Beckham then darted between two defenders to get downfield.

The only surprising thing was that Beckham -- known for his explosive speed at LSU -- was caught before reaching the end zone. It actually looked like he pulled up a little bit before being tackled at the Colts' 25.

"I got in the open field, and I kind of just felt my legs, just they weren't there with me," Beckham said. "So I'm looking around making sure there was nobody who was gonna come strip the ball. Just get as many yards as you can, get down and move on to the next play."

The 12th overall pick, who missed the entire preseason and the first four games of the regular season with a nagging hamstring injury, admitted he's not back at full speed yet.

"It's still kind of just getting there right now," Beckham said. "I'm doing the best I can to maintain what I've gone through already, but I wouldn't say that it's all the way there yet. It's still a work in progress."

Speaking of a work in progress, this Giants offense has plenty of work to do. Manning ended up throwing for 359 yards on the night, but he barely completed 50 percent of his passes (27-for-52). He overthrew receivers on a few occasions, to be sure, but his receivers also let him down with several drops.

Wideout Rueben Randle, who started opposite Beckham, was targeted 11 times -- the same amount as Beckham -- but finished with just four catches for 49 yards. On the Giants' lone scoring drive of the first half, they were forced to settle for a field goal after Randle dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands on a third-and-7 from the Colts' 20-yard line.

"I was just trying to run before I caught the ball," Randle said. "I was trying to check and see where the DB [defensive back] was, and then my focus got away when the ball came. I gotta do a better job with that."

Randle was far from the only guilty party, though. On this night, there was plenty of blame to go around.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It looks like Eli Manning will have a new weapon to throw to this coming Sunday.

Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the New York Giants’ first four games of the season because of a hamstring injury, practiced Wednesday, and it sounds like he’ll play against the Atlanta Falcons.

“I feel good,” Beckham said, flashing a big smile. “Just looking forward to that opportunity, and getting a chance to finally run out on the field.”

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AP Photo/Bill KostrounFirst-round pick Odell Beckham looks to be fully recovered from the hamstring injury that has kept him from making his pro debut.
Beckham was officially listed as limited, but said he did everything. Prior to practice, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Beckham will be part of the game plan this week.

“We’re in that phase,” Coughlin said. “What we obviously need to do is to see some hard back-to-back practices, one after the other, which I expect we’ll accomplish this week.”

The Giants’ offense, under new coordinator Ben McAdoo, has looked better as the season has progressed, scoring a combined 75 points in consecutive wins over the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins.

But there is room for improvement -- the Giants are ranked 16th in the league, right smack in the middle, in both rushing yards (120.3) and passing yards (231.3) per game.

Manning is sixth in the NFL in Total QBR, and third in completion percentage for passes thrown 10 yards or fewer (76.8). But he has completed just two passes of more than 20 yards.

“I hope that he can be a big weapon for us,” Manning said of Beckham. “He definitely has a little burst of energy, a burst of speed. He can be a deep threat, can win on some underneath stuff. Can get him hopefully throwing some short passes and he can break it for some big plays. We’ve got to just keeping working. “

Fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz said Beckham has “a ton of ability.” Beckham caught a touchdown pass late in practice Wednesday, on a deep post route.

“We just need more of that -- we need more plays like that to be able to keep defenses honest,” Cruz said. “I think Odell can provide that, I think Rueben [Randle] as well can provide that, and it’s just a matter of us hitting our spots.”

The Giants will be facing one of the worst defenses in the league statistically on Sunday. The Falcons are ranked 30th in opponent passing yards per game (276.3), and 28th in opponent rushing yards (153.5).

If Beckham does play, you might see a lot of him, despite all the missed practice time early in the year.

“He’s been in every meeting. I would expect him to know everything,” Coughlin said. “I wouldn’t shy away from that. He’s demonstrated an ability to handle whatever’s thrown at him, he’s done that throughout.”

With Beckham back, the Giants are a remarkably healthy team a quarter of the way through the season. Not a single player on the active roster sat out practice Wednesday.

Just three other players were limited: linebacker Jon Beason (foot/toe), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and punter Steve Weatherford (ankle).

Giants Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. participated in individual drills Monday. Beckham, the team’s first-round draft pick, hasn’t practiced since injuring a hamstring on July 22, the very first day of training camp. “They said he did all right, and maybe they can extend it a little bit tomorrow, I hope,” coach Tom Coughlin said. The highlight of Beckham's day was a one-handed catch on a pass from Eli Manning. “He’s out there running around, doing individual (drills), that’s all I saw,” Coughlin said. “Did he look fast? He probably wasn’t full speed today, but he did some things. I won’t be able to ascertain anything until he takes some team stuff.” Fellow wideout Victor Cruz (knee) was given a day off as a maintenance day, but Coughlin said Cruz will practice Tuesday.
  • The injury report was a long one. It included wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan (knee) and Marcus Harris (hip) -- both are expected to return Tuesday as well. Also sitting out: fullback John Conner (concussion), tight ends Daniel Fells (knee) and Xavier Grimble (hamstring), running back Peyton Hillis (foot), wide receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder) amd linebacker Jon Beason (foot).
  • Third-string quarterback Curtis Painter worked with the second team, while backup QB Ryan Nassib took snaps with the third team. Painter had been working with the 3s, and Nassib with the 2s, but Painter played extremely well Saturday against the Steelers. “Curtis certain did earn it, but I never put them in any kind of order for you and I won’t do it now, either,” Coughlin said. “They both have worked with the seconds, they both have worked with the threes and we will decide later in the week how we are going to play.”
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington -- a long-shot at the start of camp, but with two touchdown catches in the team's first two preseason games -- had a phenomenal practice. Working with the starters, he had three consecutive catches during a 2-minute drill and made a jumping grab over cornerback Zack Bowman near the sideline. Fellow wideout Rueben Randle made an amazing one-handed 50-yard catch in the back of the end zone from Manning with Prince Amukamara and Stevie Brown draped all over him.
Rueben Randle led the New York Giants in touchdown receptions in 2013. Now, that's a little like being the tallest dwarf, since he only had six of them and the Giants' offense was so bad that no one else could come up with more than four. But still, the Giants' 2012 second-round pick has flashed the ability to make a play. He has the size and the physical skills needed to be a good NFL wide receiver. His issue, to this point, has been consistency of concentration.

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Julio Cortez/AP PhotoIn 16 games last season, Giants WR Rueben Randle had 41 receptions for 611 yards and 6 touchdowns.
"Intelligence, he's got that," Giants wide receivers coach Sean Ryan said last week. "For me, the battle with him is consistency, and I think he's addressed it in this offseason in the way he approaches his job. I've seen a difference in his seriousness towards his work. This spring, I thought he was locked in. I thought he did a good job learning the new offense. Like I said, he's got some football intelligence to him. Things come to him. He sees things pretty well. But I thought he really worked hard at being locked into the meetings and on the field as well. I noticed a difference in him."

With Hakeem Nicks gone off to the Colts in free agency following a very disappointing year, the Giants are looking for more production from Randle on the outside. They drafted his fellow former LSU wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., in the first round, but Beckham is a rookie with much to learn. Randle is in his third NFL season, which is generally thought to be a big one for wide receiver development.

There's also a school of thought that the new offense under new coordinator Ben McAdoo will help Randle, who seemed to struggle to be on the same page as quarterback Eli Manning in some high-profile incidents last year that resulted in interceptions. Former coordinator Kevin Gilbride's offense relied on option routes, and the ability of the wide receivers to identify the same coverages as Manning did at the line of scrimmage. Randle had issues with that and could theoretically thrive in a simpler scheme, though Ryan disputes the idea that the change in coordinators will make things that much easier for receivers.

"Yeah, I think maybe that is oversimplifying, because you're always going to face route adjustments versus certain coverages," Ryan said. "Maybe this offense doesn't have as many, but he's still going to have to face those same decisions. In terms of the volume of route adjustments, there's probably a little less in this offense. But there's always going to be certain routes that we're going to run versus certain coverages, and post-snap they're still going to have to see it just like the quarterback sees it and be on the same page. So it's still going to be a part of the game, just probably not as much."

Ryan also said he's been trying to work his receivers all over the field and in different positions, which has in some practices resulted in Randle getting some work out of the slot.

"That's a big target running down the middle of the field," Ryan said of the 6-2, 208-pound Randle. "And that's something that we've certainly talked about and talked to him about, so it's possible."

Meantime, the key for Randle once training camp starts up next month is to maintain the focus he showed throughout the spring and apply it once games start. The Giants are expecting big things from Randle in his third NFL season.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- What's new for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning this offseason is... well, just about everything. Having run basically the same offensive system since he arrived in the NFL in 2004, Manning this year is learning a whole new system under new coordinator Ben McAdoo. It has changed quite a bit about his preparation.

"It has definitely felt different," Manning said Tuesday after the first day of minicamp. "There's a lot of learning. The past several years, you never had too many surprises. You could be positive how it was going to turn out or what a guy might do versus this coverage or thinking about protections and stuff -- all of that was second nature. Now, you kind of have to slowly think through it the first time you're doing some things."

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AP Photo/Julie Jacobson"Everything [on offense] is happening a little quicker, so I think that's a positive," Eli Manning said.
All of that said, Manning believes things are going more smoothly this week than they went for the offense in OTAs. He said Tuesday was the fourth time the Giants have had an "Install One" practice day, meaning the fourth time they've practiced the offense as though the plays were new, and he sees a difference.

"It should be second nature to us now," Manning said. "Calling plays, everyone should know what they're doing, no mistakes, playing a little bit faster, getting up to the line of scrimmage quicker, getting the ball snapped without as much thinking. I think we did a pretty good job today. I thought the tempo was good. It was hot and we ran a lot of plays, but I thought we had a good tempo and felt a little more confident with everything, with the adjustments, the changing of the plays. Everything is happening a little quicker, so I think that's a positive."

Manning is working with a relatively new group of running backs. Peyton Hillis was on the team last year, but free-agent signee Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams were not. Manning said the backs have a lot to work on in terms of blitz pickup and catching the ball out of the backfield in the new offense, but that he likes their progress. As for the wide receivers, he's still without first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., who has a hamstring injury, and Mario Manningham, who's rehabbing his knee. But in general, Manning thinks, the receivers should find things simpler in this offense than they did in the one Kevin Gilbride used to run.

"There are a lot of different plays and a lot of different things going on, but maybe not as much reading as a receiver," Manning said. "If you know what the play is, then you should be fine. It's just about getting open. You don't have to make as many decisions, probably, as a receiver, but there are still a lot of things to it. We're still fine-tuning a few things."

The Giants still have five weeks until the start of training camp and 12 weeks until the start of the regular season, so there's plenty of time to work out the kinks. Manning is a seasoned-enough veteran to enjoy progress even if it's a bit slow, and to know there's time to get everything right.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It is extremely important to the New York Giants and their new offense that 32-year-old veteran right guard Chris Snee return from his various surgeries and remain fully healthy this season. To that end, the Giants held Snee out of team drills during Tuesday's minicamp practice and could hold him out all week to protect his surgically repaired elbow.

Snee was out on the field for the entirety of the morning practice Tuesday, but he worked on the side with team trainers, just running. He said his surgically repaired hips are feeling great, but that the team is just being cautious with the elbow as planned all along.

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"You saw what the [San Antonio] Spurs did, right? Rested some older guys? We're following that blueprint," Snee joked after practice. "Everything's been good so far. But at this point in my career, if they say, 'Take a breather,' I'm going to take a breather."

Snee said the elbow surgery he had after the season was more involved and required more rehab than he initially thought it would, and that's why he and the team put in a plan to back him off of some spring practices. He believes he'll be 100 percent ready when training camp begins next month, and he said his hips feel fine. He lost 35 pounds last season to help his lower body recover from its latest surgery, dropping down to 275 pounds. He says he's now back up to 300 and planning to gain 10 more by training camp to return to his playing weight.

"The plan with him is to see if we can get the elbow right so that he feels comfortable and confident," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We won't be in a rush in that regard. He's played enough that we can get him healthy and get him right back to where he was. We know what we have there."

What they don't know about Snee is what they have in terms of his ability to hold up for an entire season. That, it seems, will remain a question until he actually does it.

Some other notes from the first day of minicamp:

Also working on the side were left tackle Will Beatty (leg) and wide receiver Mario Manningham (knee), who are hoping to return in time for the July 22 start of training camp. Middle linebacker Jon Beason, who broke his foot in OTA practices last week, attended meetings with the team in the morning but was not on the field. The Giants said his foot will be immobilized for the next six weeks, after which he'll begin his rehab.

First-round wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did some individual drills but was still out of team drills due to a hamstring injury. "He was able to go. Whether he could hit that top speed was another question. Why take a chance on it right now?" Coughlin said. "I’d like to have him practicing. That’s how you learn – you practice. He’s done all of the studying, he’s good in the classroom, but he’s got to get out here."

Running back David Wilson was out there, running around and catching passes. Wilson remains hopeful that he can be cleared for contact drills by the time training camp starts next month.

W2W4: Giants minicamp

June, 16, 2014
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The New York Giants begin the final phase of their offseason program Tuesday with the start of a three-day minicamp in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This will be the last time they're all on the field together until they start training camp July 22. Here's a look at what we'll be watching during these final three days of June practice:

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY SportsThe Giants are looking for Eli Manning and the offense to make progress in learning Ben McAdoo's system.
Progress with the new offense: It's clear by now that quarterback Eli Manning is healed from his April ankle surgery and practicing as he normally would practice this time of year. That means that the Giants should be making as-planned progress in new coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense. That progress has been somewhat haphazard to this point, as it's reasonable to expect. While the passing game concepts might be simpler under McAdoo than they were previously, the run-game concepts appear to be more complex. What little we got to see of the new offense in organized team activities (OTAs) looked disorganized and confused. Again, that's all understandable, and I would expect to see more of the same this week. But Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff want to see progress -- want to see things begin to look smoother. And while there will still be no pads or contact at this point in the offseason program, the expanded practice time should allow for some visible progress.

Middle linebacker: With Jon Beason out with a foot injury, who will take over his responsibilities in the middle of the front seven? Has Mark Herzlich advanced enough since last September to handle it? Can Jameel McClain move inside to a larger role than the one for which he was signed? Is rookie Devon Kennard a legitimate candidate? Much of what the Giants do on defense relies on Beason's ability to get and keep things organized. How organized will it look without him?

The offensive line: Who's getting more first-team snaps at center, J.D. Walton or Weston Richburg? Can Chris Snee practice every day, or are his surgically repaired hips slowing him down? And who's getting the left tackle reps with Will Beatty out? The offensive line remains the biggest issue this team faces in 2014, and the sooner things start to look settled there, the better.

Odell Beckham Jr.: The Giants' first-round pick missed a chunk of OTA time due to a hamstring injury, and it's unclear whether he'll participate this week. I still don't think we'll be able to make any judgments about the speedy wide receiver until we see him against real competition and can tell how he's going to react to physical press coverage. But just getting him on the field with the rest of the offense would be a benefit, if only to keep everyone else in their proper positions and working on plays that involve Beckham's downfield speed.

Tight ends: They're going to need one. Is Adrien Robinson looking like a real candidate? Is Daniel Fells? Are there different roles possible for guys like Kellen Davis and Larry Donnell as blockers? The Giants' weakest position group bears watching until we get a better handle on the ways in which its members can be expected to contribute.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants' first-round draft pick, was held out of the team's OTA on Thursday with a sore hamstring.

Beckham said he first felt the pain at the end of practice on Tuesday. "Just sore. My hamstring is pretty tight," he said. "But it felt pretty good today, two days later. Just typical soreness."

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The 12th overall pick did not sound very concerned about the hamstring issue, saying, "I'll probably practice tomorrow." But Giants coach Tom Coughlin was less optimistic.

"He may be [out] longer than that," Coughlin said. "You’re talking about a skilled athlete with a twinge, he may be longer than that."

Beckham Jr. was very durable in college, for what it's worth, playing in all 40 games during his three years at LSU.

Also missing in action: Fellow wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan was not present at the Giants' facility on Thursday, due to a death in the family.

Right guard Chris Snee was in uniform but sat out 11-on-11 team drills. Coughlin indicated it was a scheduled rest day, with Snee coming back from offseason hip and elbow surgeries.

Brandon Mosley, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2012, played right guard with the first unit in place of Snee. Charles Brown played left tackle in place of the rehabbing Will Beatty. Center J.D. Walton, left guard Geoff Schwartz and right tackle Justin Pugh rounded out the starting O-line.

On the end: Eli Manning completed passes to three different tight ends Thursday during 11-on-11's -- Adrien Robinson, Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells.

Robinson in particular has looked good during the OTAs the media have been permitted to watch this spring, and Coughlin praised both Robinson and fellow tight end Larry Donnell following Thursday's practice.

"I think [Robinson's] done a really good job, in terms of just learning again, not many mental errors. I’ve been really impressed with that," Coughlin said. "[Larry] Donnell the same way. The guys have learned it, they’ve picked it up, they’re out there, they seem to be much more natural, not a lot of plodding. It seems like they’ve grasped what we want done, and let’s just hope they keep going."

The Giants desperately need one or more of these tight ends to step up. The five tight ends currently on the Giants' roster (including undrafted rookie Xavier Grimble) had a combined six catches in the NFL last season.

Return game: Wide receiver Rueben Randle, cornerback Walter Thurmond, and wideouts Victor Cruz and Trindon Holliday were the four players returning punts on Thursday, in that order.

(Thurmond muffed one punt, by the way.)

The three kick returners were safety Quintin Demps, Holliday and running back David Wilson.

Wilson was not yet been cleared for contact this week, as he had hoped, but he was a little more involved in Thursday's practice than he was a week ago. And Coughlin sounded optimistic about Wilson being cleared for training camp.

"Progress has been made, so it’s not a negative report at all in our opinion," Coughlin said. "He’s probably right where he should be."
Football Outsiders has a post up about the biggest remaining holes for each NFC East team. It's an Insider post Insider, but you know how I get a kick out of it when Outsiders posts are Insider. Plus, not a lot going on, so I figured we'd use it to spark a discussion.

To no one's surprise, for the New York Giants, they picked tight end. Scott Kacsmar notes the Giants' offense has relied on its wide receivers in the past and the investment they've made in that position makes it likely they'll do so again under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. But there's no denying tight end is a position they have failed to address in a significant way:
Where the depth chart is not as bountiful is at tight end, with Kellen Davis, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson on the roster. They have a combined 145 catches in the NFL and are all better suited to be backups. Manning has done some good things in the past with unheralded tight ends such as Jake Ballard and Kevin Boss, but this might be the barest the cupboard has been in his tenure. It also will be the fifth year in a row the Giants will have a new leading receiver at tight end.

It will indeed, and that's not because of luck or circumstance but rather because of economics. As we've discussed here many times, in the salary-cap era, teams have to make decisions about which positions merit the spending of major resources. This pertains especially to teams whose starting quarterback eats up 16 or 17 percent of their salary cap, as Eli Manning does with the Giants. The tight end position is one at which the Giants have perennially decided to seek cheap solutions, so unless they fall into some kind of super-low-cost deal with Jermichael Finley or Dustin Keller (each of whom comes with major medical concerns that would have to be addressed first, by the way), it looks as though Robinson or maybe Donnell will get his chance.

I think, assuming all else goes according to plan, I agree with tight end as the Giants' biggest roster hole. It's the one spot at which they lack anyone with any reasonable NFL experience. But I think it's worth pointing out that, if things don't go as planned, positions such as center, right guard, left tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker and even wide receiver could end up being where the Giants have their biggest holes. As of now, analysis like this assumes Weston Richburg or J.D. Walton emerges, Chris Snee stays healthy, Will Beatty bounces back, Damontre Moore or Robert Ayers makes a leap as a pass-rusher, Johnathan Hankins is ready to be a 16-game starter, they have two starters to go with Jon Beason at linebacker and Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr., are able to be major contributors on the outside. Lot of assumptions there. I think it's going to be interesting to find out where the holes are that we don't currently see, and how quickly and deftly the Giants are able to fill those.

Giants offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
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With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the New York Giants' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeGeoff Schwartz
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants knew they needed help on the offensive line, so signing Geoff Schwartz was a move in the right direction.
Best move: Signed to start at left guard after a season in which the interior of the Giants' offensive line crumbled completely and decimated the offense, Geoff Schwartz will be an immediate upgrade at a key position and should help the run game as well as Eli Manning's protection in the passing game. The Giants needed to make the offensive line a priority, and signing Schwartz at the start of free agency showed that they understood that.

Riskiest move: Letting defensive tackle Linval Joseph leave for Minnesota in free agency. Joseph is still just 25 years old -- younger than any free agent the Giants signed. He and Justin Tuck (who left and signed with the Raiders) were the Giants' two best defensive linemen in 2013. The Giants are hoping 2013 second-round pick Johnathan Hankins can fill Joseph's shoes, but letting him go risked leaving the Giants too thin on the defensive line -- a position of renowned strength during their last two Super Bowls.

Most surprising move: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and in general the amount of free-agent attention the Giants paid to cornerback. They spent big to acquire Rodgers-Cromartie and also signed Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman at Trumaine McBride. They obviously needed to replace Corey Webster (who they should have replaced last offseason), but the extent to which they beefed up at the position was surprising for a team that appeared to need more help on offense than on defense.

Draft pick impact: First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. has a chance to make a rookie-year contribution as Hakeem Nicks' replacement at wide receiver if he can learn the offense quickly. Ditto second-round pick Weston Richburg, who has a chance to beat out J.D. Walton for the starting center job. And fourth-round pick Andre Williams, who led all of college football in rushing yards last year at Boston College, could get into the mix early at running back. The Giants are counting on their draft picks to help fill holes on the offensive side.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He is the New York Giants' 2014 first-round draft pick. He was the No. 12 overall pick in this year's draft. But wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is here at the Giants' team facility doing what everybody else on the offense is doing at high speed -- learning.

"It's a new offense for everybody," Beckham said Tuesday. "They just got it two or three weeks ago, so the veterans are all learning, too. So right now, everything's all up in the air."

[+] EnlargeOdell Beckham Jr
Elsa/Getty ImagesLike the rest of his new teammates, Odell Beckham Jr. is busy learning a new offense.
Beckham said his goal is to learn every wide receiver position in new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system, but he's starting out with the X receiver position. That's the split end, or the receiver that's tied to the line of scrimmage and doesn't go in motion. Based on what the Giants said about Beckham the night they drafted him, they view him as an ideal candidate for that spot, since success there depends on the receiver's ability to beat press coverage and get separation from the defender. Hakeem Nicks, the 2009 first-round pick who left as a free agent this offseason, could not do that last year, and the Giants hope that the replacement they drafted can do a better job with that.

Beckham's LSU teammate, 2012 second-round pick Rueben Randle, would then be the Z receiver on the other side with Victor Cruz handling the slot receiver duties. But of course that could change from week to week or play to play, which Beckham knows. At this point, he's just trying to get down what he can.

"Right now for me, it's a lot of learning the offense," he said. "I feel like I'm catching up. There's so much being thrown at you a once, it's all going to take some getting used to."

He said having Randle around helps him some, as does his familiarity with Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who went to the same high school Beckham attended in New Orleans and has worked with Beckham at his passing camps. And Beckham also is well aware of outside criticisms about his size (5-foot-11) and has made his peace with them.

"It's something I don't really think about," Beckham said. "There are a lot of guys in the league my size. Percy Harvin is one of them. Maybe he's a little faster than I am, but he's been successful. Size is not something that matters, I don't think."

If he has speed and the ability to get away from defenders, Beckham's size shouldn't hold him back. Nicks has the size to outfight people for the ball, but his inability to get open with any kind of consistency last year hamstrung the Giants' offense. The Giants don't care how tall Beckham is if no one's covering him. They want to get him the ball and let him run with it.

First, though, he's got a lot to learn.
The New York Giants on Monday night announced the signings of first-round draft pick Odell Beckham, Jr., second-round draft pick Weston Richburg, fifth-round draft pick Devon Kennard and sixth-round draft pick Bennett Jackson to their rookie contracts.

They signed fourth-round pick Andre Williams and fifth-round pick Nat Berhe last week, so the only Giants draft pick yet unsigned is third-rounder Jay Bromley, who will sign very soon, maybe even today.

So yeah, within two weeks of the end of the draft, everybody should be signed and working out with the team. Same with every other team around the league. These guys sign very quickly, with no drama.

You likely remember a time when this was not the case -- when draft-pick negotiations would drag on through the summer and threaten to keep the new guys out of training camp as agents and teams haggled over the details. But the NFL and the NFLPA agreed, in the last CBA negotiations, to an institutional change that eliminated the drama.

Draft-pick contracts are now "slotted," with predetermined amounts assigned to each pick based on what the player picked in that spot got in prior years. The signing bonuses are even flat, which means that Beckham got the same $5,888,144 signing bonus as last year's No. 12 overall pick (Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden), 2012's No. 12 overall pick (Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox) and 2011's No. 12 overall pick (Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder). The annual minimums go up by around $20,000 in each draft, but the signing bonus stays the same. The total value of Beckham's deal should be right around $10.4 million for four years, with that fifth-year team option for 2018 that has to be picked up by May of 2017.

The reason for this is that one of the things the owners wanted out of the last labor deal was cost certainty on rookie contracts, which they felt were getting out of hand at the top of the draft. The union agreed to a rookie pay scale in exchange for other things it wanted, like improved health benefits for players and their families and reduced workloads in the offseason, and on the stipulation that the money saved would go to veterans. Veteran minimums have risen, and the new deal instituted a salary "floor" that requires teams to spend a certain percentage of their cap money each year.

The end result is a complete lack of drama in the contract negotiations for Giants rookies and all other rookies around the league, who are getting signed and into team facilities as quickly as the paperwork can get done.

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