There are times when Odell Beckham Jr. calls his shot. Such as Monday, for instance, when he told teammates he was going to go out on the practice field and make a spectacular one-handed grab.
Then there are other times when the moment comes to him. When the ball and his position and the defense converge and allow him to snap the football from the air with one hand. Such as Sunday’s practice, for instance.
Whatever the back story, myth and mysticism behind them, there is no denying that Beckham has an ability to make plays that haven’t been seen before in NFL history. In the past two days, he exhibited that to the crowds at Giants practices with a pair of remarkable grabs that left the fans shrieking and shaking their heads.
On Sunday, it was a one-handed grab for a would-be touchdown in a two-minute drill (Olivier Vernon was credited with a sack before the pass was thrown, though). Beckham came across the field and had a step on cornerback Eli Apple, and just as the pass from Eli Manning seemed to be overthrown, Beckham jumped and caught it backhanded with his right hand. He switched it quickly to his left as he cruised into the end zone.
“He threw the ball and I was like, ‘I’ve seen this before,’ ” Beckham said. “It felt like it was like a dream. Just being able to have that confidence and come down with those plays . . . I try and bring a lot of energy to this team, especially to my wide receiver room.”
He followed it up Monday in one-on-one drills against Janoris Jenkins. This time he jumped over Jenkins down the left sideline and made another backhanded grab with his right hand.
The action is almost like a slam dunk, his arm windmilling, only in reverse. Instead of starting out with the ball in his palm and throwing it down, Beckham begins with an empty hand and winds up with a fist full of leather.
As exciting as those plays are — and as many clicks and retweets and loops on the highlight shows that they garner — not everyone is a fan of them.
“I like two hands on the ball better than one,” Ben McAdoo said.
But he also said: “I like completions better than incompletions.”
As long as Beckham comes away with the football, it’s hard to argue with his technique.
“Get the job done,” Beckham said. “That’s just where I’m at, just get the job done however you can. If I’ve got to fight and scrap for it, whatever I’ve got to do to come up with it, it just has got to be mine. There’s just no other way to put it.”
Beckham knows he is not a role model for young receivers.
“I’m not trying to teach the kids out here to use one hand,” he said. “I was taught growing up to use two hands.”
He also knows the coaches want him to do it that way, which is why after Sunday’s grab, instead of running back to the huddle, he jogged.
“That way they can maybe forget about it and go to the next play,” he said.
Forgetting about Beckham’s most dynamic catches is hard to do. And that’s the point. He became an icon by making a one-handed grab against the Cowboys as a rookie, and his star has not stopped rising since. Even his mundane plays have a lively spark to them, a sense of excitement, a feeling of wondering what he’ll be able to do next.
Beckham shares that sensation.
“It’s really crazy, you know, you’re running these deep routes, or any time the ball is coming to you,” he said of the anticipation and his thoughts in the millimoments before such plays. “It’s a split-second of decision that could last a lifetime.”