Pat Shurmur was so sure on Friday that Odell Beckham Jr. would play in Sunday’s game against the Redskins that he didn’t even give him a designation on the injury report. The wide receiver was a limited participant in that day’s practice with a bruised quadriceps, an injury suffered on the last play of the loss to the Eagles two weeks ago, but Shurmur insisted that Beckham would be available.
“Just gave him a little time,” Shurmur said on Friday. “He’s going to be fine. He’s playing.”
No he isn’t. On Saturday, Beckham was downgraded to out. He did not even make the trip to Washington with the team.
In announcing the decision, the Giants said on their website only that “it was determined [Saturday] morning he would not play in tomorrow’s game.”
Beckham was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week and gave no indication that he might be dealing with a medical issue when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.
“I’m excited about Washington,” he said. “Another opportunity to go out there Sunday and do what we do. Since the bye week, we’ve been playing at a very, very high level and I just hope that we can continue that. That’s really all that we can do at this point. Leave the rest of the season up to everybody else and just focus on what we can control, which is our games, winning our games, and see what happens. Not really much more to say than that.”
Beckham first disclosed the quadriceps injury in his Facebook docuseries with “Uninterrupted” on Friday morning. On Thursday, the only injury Beckham did talk about was in relationship to safety Landon Collins, who was put on injured reserve with a partially torn shoulder labrum earlier in the week.
“It’s great to see guys just never give up, go out here and give it all for their team,” Beckham said of Collins’ return to last week’s game after suffering his shoulder injury. “Kind of reminds me of last year when I was hurt [in the preseason], there was a part of me that I know I shouldn’t have been playing as early as I was, I shouldn’t have been back. I’m in the locker room with these guys every day and the season finally rolled around, you don’t want to feel like you’re letting anybody down. I think that’s probably one of the toughest positions to be in where you have to choose. Do I take care of myself, my family, my future? Or do I give it for the team? To see those guys do that, it’s a great thing.”
Also regarding Collins’ injury, Beckham said: “You never know what that could’ve led to. Now he’s playing out there and in the back of his mind he’s thinking something about his shoulder and then something worse happens, so that’s just the decision him and his family had to make.”
The news also came after a week in which many Giants pointed to the long list of players who had returned to face the Bears after suffering injuries. They saw it as a sign of the team’s toughness and desire to win despite their 4-8 record.
“We like to fight for each other,” said Sterling Shepard, who played through a painful rib injury. “We’re all brothers in here. If me being out there is going to help the team get the W, I’m going to fight through whatever I have. As long as it’s not something really, really serious, I’m going to go back out there and fight for my brothers. You saw that around the team, too. I think it shows what type of team we have and the guys are going to lay it all on the line no matter the situation.”
Shepard said it’s easy to spot a player who is milking an injury. “You see guys who lay down, it’s easy to point those guys out and maybe think they’re not giving it their all and are not passionate about what they do,” he said.
Most importantly, he said, those players themselves recognize it. “Guys know it internally if you are not giving it your all and you’re not willing to fight through the pain,” he said. “Guys can feel that themselves. I think it kind of eats you up more than anybody else.”
There was no indication he was talking about Beckham, who at that time hadn’t even missed any practice time because of the quadriceps.
Beckham is coming back from ankle surgery that robbed him of most of the 2017 season. In August, he signed a five-year extension with the Giants worth a possible $95 million. He had played in every game this season — until Friday, he had not been listed as missing any time in practices — and leads the team in receptions (77) and receiving yards (1,052).
In last week’s game against the Bears, Beckham had a passing and receiving touchdown, but he also received heavy scrutiny for what looked to some as a lack of effort on an onside kick that nearly cost the Giants the game. The coaches never publicly chastised Beckham for that play, but the insinuation that he had not given it his all clearly miffed Beckham in the postgame locker room.
“I can dive in there and still not get the ball,” he said last week. “It was a very tough call. Nobody should ever question my effort or my heart. That’s the last thing you can do. You can question me as a person, as a man, whatever you want to do. But my heart and my effort can never be questioned. Ever.”