Odell Beckham Jr. picked up right where he left off.
Almost a week after leaving practice with lacerations on his lower left leg after a display of deep, acrobatic catches that fans have become accustomed to, the star receiver was back on the field Saturday, taking full-speed, full-team reps for the first time since the injury.
“He looked good to me,” Ben McAdoo said of Beckham’s physical status upon his return.
Quite an understatement.
On his first opportunity in team drills, Beckham beat Janoris Jenkins deep down the left sideline to catch a pass from Eli Manning for a touchdown. It was the exact kind of play that Beckham was making last Sunday when he briefly terrified the Giants by remaining on the ground after a collision with Jenkins and then taking a cart back to the trainer’s room.
Beckham missed only a few days of work, and the Giants felt as if they dodged a potentially season-altering situation. The exhale of relief was completed Saturday.
“He did a nice job,” McAdoo said. “The defense brought a nice pressure, so it was tough to handle from a coverage standpoint. Eli got some push and really threw it up in the air, he knew he had a one-on-one, and Odell got behind [Jenkins]. He ran the post, put his foot in the ground, and adjusted over his outside shoulder. Made a nice catch.”
Beckham’s presence also gave the Giants a first glimpse at what they hope will be a dynamic trio of receivers. For the first time in camp, Beckham, Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard were lined up together in the same formation, taking three snaps in seven-on-seven drills. Two of those reps had the threesome lined up on the same side of the field. Although the ball never came in their direction, it certainly was a daunting lineup for the defense and a warning to opposing units around the league of the kind of firepower the Giants can supply in the passing game.
The depth goes far beyond those three, certainly way beyond the one superstar. Throughout camp, there has been a dizzying display of receiver play from the top of the depth chart to the bottom. Rookie Darius Powe made several impressive catches Saturday. Tavarres King continued to make plays. Second-year receiver Geremy Davis, a draft pick last season, has looked strong and fast. Myles White is one of the fastest players on the team. Dwayne Harris is playing well.
Cruz may be one of the few receivers who has yet to make a standout play, but it’s still early and only his first week back after he missed almost two full years of football. His timeline ticks differently, and he has shown signs of steady improvement since camp opened.
“It’s a great problem to have,” McAdoo said of the depth at receiver and the hard decisions that might have to be made a month from now (rosters must be trimmed to 53 by Sept. 3).
And now that Beckham is back — and playing as if he never left — the Giants can get back to the business of daydreaming about the receiver corps instead of having nightmares about it.