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Giants Q&A: Is Odell Beckham Jr. the new punt returner?

Odell Beckham of the New York Giants avoids

Odell Beckham of the New York Giants avoids a tackle by Derrick Kindred of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on Nov. 27, 2016 in Cleveland. Credit: Getty Images / Gregory Shamus

Is Odell Beckham Jr. the new punt returner?

It’s certainly very tempting for the Giants to go in that direction, especially after Sunday’s performance. He had a 59-yarder that was negated by a penalty but still managed to average 11.7 yards on three returns (the Giants entered averaging 6.7 yards as a team).

“I like when he has an opportunity to get his hands on the ball,” Ben McAdoo said. “He’s sure-handed back there and he’s electric with the ball in his hands.”

When pushed on whether Beckham will continue to return punts, though, McAdoo hedged. “Each week is a new week,” he said.

What does it do to a punter when he sees number 13 back there waiting for the ball?

Giants punter Brad Wing, a teammate of Beckham’s at LSU, can only imagine.

“I’m glad I don’t have to punt to him,” Wing said. “I think they notice him. Whether it’s scary or not, the fact they notice him is a big deal. Once you notice a returner, you start to think about them and not yourself. His presence, it’s a big factor.”

Speaking of Wing, did he have some good punts?

Yes — even the one that didn’t look so good coming off his foot. In the third quarter, he appeared to slice a low line drive toward the sideline, but in actuality, he did it on purpose. The ball hit the turf and rolled about 25 yards before it was picked up for a net of 61 yards.

“The idea is you don’t want it returned at all, so you get it as close to the sideline as possible with low hang time,” Wing said. “It’s supposed to bounce forward. Nine times out of 10, it does, and we had a great bounce on it today.”

He said the Giants call it a “boomerang” punt, not only because Wing is from Australia but because it has “an ugly-looking spin coming off.”

Wing’s favorite aspect of those kicks?

“It’s funny. You hear the crowd go ‘Ooh!’ but it’s something we try to do in practice,” he said. “As long as it’s effective, we’re happy.”

Why was there no review of what appeared to be an interception by Eli Apple late in the second quarter?

First, the play was ruled an incompletion on the field. Apple did seem to get both toes down inbounds before his heel hit out, but according to Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira, “in the natural stepping motion, the whole foot has to come down in bounds.”

McAdoo could not challenge the call inside the two-minute warning, but he did call a timeout in hopes that the replay official would consider taking a closer look. The official did not see enough to stop the game. “That’s the first time I’ve heard of something like that,” Apple said of the rule. “If it was college, I would have had a pick.”

What’s up with Robbie Gould?

The Giants kicker has missed three extra points in the past two games, an alarming development. Special-teams coordinator Tom Quinn said last week that kickers often will be out of sync on PAT attempts that come after defensive or special- teams touchdowns because they are not in the mindset to kick, as they would be during an offensive possession. Sunday’s miss was after JPP’s fumble return for a TD. Still, the issue bears watching.

How many targets did Sterling Shepard get as a receiver?

After scoring the winning touchdown in two straight games, the rookie did not have a pass come his way against the Browns. He did, however, contribute with a 22-yard end-around run in the fourth quarter that set up Beckham’s second touchdown.

When might Shane Vereen be available to the Giants?

The running back, who has been on injured reserve since Week 4 with a biceps injury that required surgery, seems to be almost ready to return and be the one player the Giants designate to come off IR. Vereen traveled with the team to Cleveland and was active in warmups. NFL Network reported that the Giants are targeting the Dec. 11 game against the Cowboys as a potential return date.

The Giants had pretty good success running the ball with two tight ends. Why did they go away from that?

After consecutive runs of 6 and 7 yards by Rashad Jennings with that personnel grouping in the third quarter, the Giants abandoned it in favor of their more usual three-receiver sets. “We thought we could spread them out,” McAdoo said. “We feel we have some good players in that [three-receiver] personnel group.”

Wouldn’t it be better for the Giants, though, if they changed from that predictable look once in a while?

“Certainly,” McAdoo said.

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