Tom Coughlin changes course and decides to encourage Odell Beckham Jr.

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Giants head coach Tom Coughlin reacts during a

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin reacts during a preseason game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Bob Glauber Newsday columnist Bob Glauber

Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets and

Tom Coughlin has a rule that you're late if you're not five minutes early, so naturally, the Giants' demanding coach isn't happy when you're not there at all.

Coughlin has taken any number of occasions this summer to tweak first-round rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose hamstring problems have kept him out of every preseason game and limited him to a handful of light practices. Just catch Coughlin's facial expressions when he's asked about Beckham's absence, and you know the coach is steamed.

But Coughlin has decided to veer away from the tough-love approach and try a more patient method. When a reporter asked yesterday about Beckham's status, the coach snapped: "Let's just let this kid get better, OK? Everybody, settle down. Let the kid get better. I went up to him yesterday and I said, 'Let's just not have any more setbacks. Whatever it takes to get over this, let's do this.' Let's encourage him. Let's not let him feel like he's an outsider. Let's get on with it. But I mean, to talk about him every day, I'll let you know when he's ready to do something."

But Beckham might not be ready for a while. Coughlin suggested that he "may be a couple, three weeks away, so we're not going to talk about him. We have a game to play . Can we talk about the guys playing in the game instead of people that are on the injury report?"

Coughlin paused, took a breath and said, "Thank you for bearing with me on that."

Clearly it has been a challenging time for Coughlin and his prized rookie, who was being counted on as part of the plan to reinvigorate the Giants' offense. But it appears the two have cleared the air, and Beckham might be the better for it.

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After all, no sense rushing back when you run the risk of aggravating the injury -- something that already has happened twice since he originally injured the hammy during offseason workouts. Beckham hurt himself again on the first day of training camp, and again in recent days after returning to run some position drills in practice.

When told of Coughlin's "get-off-the-kid's-back" comments, Beckham was appreciative.

"It was great to get a reassurance and just know that it's one of those things that just takes time," he said. "Obviously, it's not something you want to happen or to be out for this long a period of time. But it's something we have to deal with and just take it day by day.

"We've talked a few times. Just to be able to have the feeling of your coach and everybody having your back is good. It's aggravating not being able to do anything, but you just have to deal with it, stay positive and keep moving forward every day."

Another former first-round pick who suffered an injury on the first day of training camp as a rookie knows exactly what he's going through.

"You're getting criticism from every angle, and now you're putting pressure on yourself to perform," said cornerback Prince Amukamara, who suffered a broken foot in 2011. "Social media and everyone on Twitter are gonna call you every name in the book, and if the offense is doing badly, there's even more pressure on you. There's a lot of pressure from all angles.

"All you can do is focus on ways you can control it, and that's doing everything you can in the training room and staying mentally prepared."

Amukamara was needled constantly during his injury-related absence as a rookie. Once, after finishing his rehab session before the players finished practice, he went to the cafeteria to eat lunch. Running back Brandon Jacobs walked by and yelled, "Prince! Prince! I don't ever want to see you eat before me!" Fellow cornerback Corey Webster would say, "You don't work, you don't eat." And he often was thrown into the cold tub, once by Jason Pierre-Paul early in Amukamara's second season, an incident that was caught on video by punter Steve Weatherford and publicly criticized by Coughlin.

Amukamara admits to some ribbing of Beckham. "I never make fun of him, but we always joke together," he said. "So sometimes if [teammates] see him jog somewhere, they'll say, 'Oh, so you can jog, but you can't practice.' One time, I see him scratch his head and I said, 'Oh, you can scratch your head, but you can't practice.' "

All in good fun, but Amukamara knows his teammate -- and his team -- will be better off when Beckham returns.

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"I know as soon as he gets on the field, he's going to perform, because we've seen flashes of him," he said. "A hamstring injury is something you don't want to linger. You want to make sure it's perfectly OK, because you don't want it to pop again and you're out longer."

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