There is no hesitation in Odell Beckham Jr.’s response to the question of whether he still believes in Eli Manning. Not even a hint of doubt, and no second-guessing of his quarterback the way even coach Ben McAdoo has done on a few occasions.
“All day, every day,” Beckham said Thursday at his locker after practice. “Do I believe in [number] 10? Absolutely. Is he going to lead us there? Absolutely. He’s done it before, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t do it again.”
Beckham hopes he can play a leading role in helping Manning and the offense recover from a slow start. The Giants have scored 13 points, the fewest in their first two games since 1947.
And when it comes to piling on and agreeing with McAdoo’s public rebuke of Manning for two key mistakes in Monday night’s loss to the Lions, Beckham wants no part of it.
“To be honest, I used to pay attention to what is said outside of this building, and now I really don’t,” he said. “It’s going to make no difference to me what somebody says outside of here, so I don’t pay attention.”
But this time the criticism came from inside the building — at its epicenter, in fact. There is no more important voice in the locker room than McAdoo’s, and his decision to poke Manning and defend underperforming Ereck Flowers and Brandon Marshall was not inconsequential.
“Well, it’s outside, because it’s getting brought into here,” Beckham said. “[McAdoo] said it, but it’s still getting written about. So that to me isn’t going to bother me.”
As far as Beckham is concerned, nothing has changed about Manning’s stature inside the locker room.
“I’m still going to talk to 10 the same way,” he said. “Me and 10 are still going to have the same mentality each and every day. So honestly, there’s nothing that can really be said that’s going to make me feel a way about somebody on this team.”
Beckham wants nothing more than to quiet any talk about Manning — be it from the coach or from fans concerned that the quarterback alone can’t overcome poor line play and an ineffective running game.
The playmaking wide receiver returned Monday night after missing the opener in Dallas, but he didn’t start and was used on a part-time basis. He made four catches for only 36 yards.
“It’s hard to get in the groove when you’re in and out,” he said. “So I look to play a lot more this week, in my opinion.”
Is it Beckham’s hope to play more, or does he expect to?
“That’s what’s going to happen,” he said.
Has he lobbied for more playing time?
“No,” he said. “I’m playing.”
The Giants can use that kind of optimism to help get out of this stunning early-season funk. Even if Beckham isn’t 100 percent recovered from a high ankle sprain he suffered Aug. 21, he believes he can be a difference-maker.
“My mind is on another level,” he said. “I feel like I can take over a game at any time, no matter ankle, anything like that. So it’s just a matter of getting those opportunities and making the most of them.”
Despite the outside skepticism about a team that had appeared to be a Super Bowl contender, Beckham remains unfazed.
“Those people aren’t on this team,” he said of the doubters. “I don’t really see any panic. There is no fear in my heart about being 0-2. It’s just a time to dig deep, make plays when you need to make them, turn things around. You can go 0-5, win the next 11, and you never know. I think the Giants won a Super Bowl when they were 9-7 [in 2011], something like that. So I don’t real ly count us out.”
Same with his quarterback.
No. 13 still believes in No. 10.
All day, every day.