Odell Beckham Jr. said he only feels at about 85 or 90 perfect of his full strength this week as he continues to nurse a hip injury that nearly sidelined him against the Rams in London. He was listed by the Giants as limited in Wednesday’s practice.
But if the trend of his career continues the way it has, that number — and all other Beckham-related numbers — should continue to go up.
Beckham has been a second-half monster so far in the NFL. While his numbers have been strong for the Giants in their first through eighth games each year (an average of 6.0 catches and 85.8 receiving yards in those 18 games), he traditionally explodes into another realm in games nine through 16 (7.9 catches, 122.1 yards per game in 15 of those). He’s had six 100-yard receiving games in the first half of seasons, 11 in the second half.
“I think it’s because people wear down,” Beckham said, touting his own away-from-the-office work to get in better shape than his opponents. “Once it gets towards the back end of the season I still feel like it’s Week 2 pretty much every game . . . I feel like I tend to do better towards the end of the race.”
In other words, it’s about that time of year when Beckham finds a phone booth and becomes Odell.
The Giants can certainly use that kind of boost. Especially this week. They’re 4-3 and in second place in the NFC East and facing the Eagles on Sunday, but they have yet to put together a complete game offensively. There have been flashes of it — and flashes from Beckham — but there has yet to be a shake-your-head kind of complete performance in which he and the Giants have dominated an entire game.
“I’m definitely expecting more of myself,” Beckham said of the rest of the season. “I feel very focused heading into the second half of this season and I think this team does as well.”
Beckham wasn’t as optimistic the last time he took the field. That was in London against the Rams and he slipped early in warm-ups, irritating the hip injury he suffered a week earlier against the Ravens. He wasn’t sure he would be able to play. But he did, at what he estimated was 65 percent effectiveness and with concerns about exacerbating the injury to the detriment of the rest of the season.
“I’m going to do anything I can to help this team at any point in time,” he said. “It would eat me up even more if I didn’t go out there. At least try.”
Fellow receiver Victor Cruz said of Beckham playing hurt, “It just reconfirmed for me the type of guy he is, the type of teammate he is, the type of friend he is, that he is willing to put his body on the line for all us, for his receiving corps, for everybody in this locker room. He’s for this team and everything else is secondary.”
And now the Giants are just about in his sweet spot in the schedule. It’s not technically the second half of the season, but the bye in Week 8 presents a useful perforation in the schedule. It also gave Beckham a chance to heal up a bit, and gave the coaches a chance to figure out ways to use him more effectively.
“I think offenses in general get more productive in the second half of seasons,” Ben McAdoo said. “I think they have a chance to work with each other. Defenses usually start ahead of the game. Odell is a talented player and the more he practices . . . the better he seems to get.”
Maybe this year he can even go beyond that second-half burst and carry it further.
“All we can do is be the best team that we can be and see what happens,” Beckham said. “I haven’t been to the playoffs yet. I would love to be playing in January. I guess we will see how we finish up.”