This is supposed to be Travis Time.
When the Giants drafted tight end Travis Beckum last April, they envisioned him becoming a factor in games such as last night's. Cold, miserable nights when offenses have trouble moving the ball and possession passes are at a premium.
As general manager Jerry Reese said during the spring: "When the wind starts to swirl out here and it gets cold in November, December, a shorter pass to a guy who can get open on the inside, a bigger target, will probably help our quarterback."
But it hasn't worked out that way. At least not yet. Beckum has not caught a pass since Week 5 against the Raiders and hasn't had one thrown to him since the first quarter in Philadelphia on Nov. 1, when Asante Samuel jumped his route and made a tone-setting interception.
Last week the 6-3, 239-pound Beckum missed the game after aggravating a groin injury in Friday's practice, a difficult miss for him because the Giants seemed to be on the verge of finally coming back to him as a target.
"Quite frankly, we did have some offensive plans for last week that did not materialize," Tom Coughlin said.
Beckum said knowing that he was in a position to take advantage of the Cowboys' defense - they keep a safety on the field to cover a second tight end, a scenario the Giants considered a mismatch - made it even more difficult to sit out.
"I had my plays in there," Beckum said of the game plan a week ago. "It sucks that it had to happen."
Last night, as the Giants hosted the Eagles in a key NFC East game, Beckum was back on the field. But even though the rain was coming down and the conditions appeared to be ideal for a tight end like Beckum, he wasn't sure what his role would be.
"I think that I've been patient all year and have been basically waiting for my chance to come out and show these guys and show everyone else what I'm capable of doing," Beckum said. "It's just a matter of time and I'm not going to get impatient. For the most part, the coaches know what I'm capable of doing. So it's just waiting to see what they put in the game plan."
Beckum compared his waiting process this season to making the adjustment from high school to college, where he attended Wisconsin first as a defensive player before switching to an offensive weapon used as an H-back.
"Mentally it's tough because you're used to being the man in college and you're coming into a new environment," he said. "You have to learn so much different stuff. You just have to be patient and wait for your time. There's no sense in getting upset or anything about it."
The Giants still believe that Beckum can be a playmaker for them, and not just in the postman kind of way (rain, sleet and snow). They like the way he stretches defenses when he's on the field, confusing secondaries about whether to cover him as a tight end or a receiver. The Giants were excited about adding to the depth of their playbook with Beckum, using him as an H-back, maybe even out of the backfield. But for now, it seems as though they are simply trying to get him into the passing game.
"He's never going to be - or he is certainly not in the first year or two - going to be at the point of attack," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said, essentially defusing any thoughts of Beckum in the backfield or as a traditional tight end. "That's not who he is."
Who is he? No one knows yet. He entered last night's game with five receptions for 35 yards. He's shown good hands catching the ball when it's been thrown to him, but those hands have been idle for more than two months.
Still, Coughlin lauded his special-teams play, saying: "There is no doubt about his athleticism." And Gilbride said he sees Beckum becoming the kind of mismatch player who can take advantage of safeties and linebackers, even if it doesn't happen this year.
"Down the road, absolutely, absolutely," Gilbride said. He's not dismissing the possibility of Beckum's contributing this season, either, adding: "And hopefully even now."
Notes & quotes: WR Hakeem Nicks started last night in place of Mario Manningham, and Aaron Ross started at strong safety . . . DT Rocky Bernard, a free-agent pickup who has been mostly ineffective this season, was inactive . . . Other Giants inactives were WR Ramses Barden, CB D.J. Johnson, RB Gartrell Johnson, G Adam Koets, T Guy Whimper, WR Sinorice Moss and TE Bear Pascoe.