Odell Beckham Jr. was limited in practice on Wednesday because of his bruised quad and his status for Sunday’s game against the Titans is unclear.
But that’s OK. At least more OK than it was a year ago when Beckham missed most of the season with an ankle injury. While the Giants would prefer to go into a must-win game against the Titans with their best wide receiver in the lineup on Sunday, they have a luxury they did not have last year at this time: Competent veterans to fill in for him.
“It’s a lot different in a lot of ways,” Sterling Shepard said.
A year ago the Giants were rolling rookies and practice squadders onto the field. Guys such as Hunter Sharp, Ed Egan and Travis Rudolph were out there trying to catch passes and help win games. At some point, Roger Lewis Jr. was the most seasoned and dangerous weapon in the passing game. He hasn’t played in the NFL this season and is on the practice squad for the Titans.
Now, when the Giants are without Beckham, as they were on Sunday, they have an abundance of proven veteran options who can step in and play. Sterling Shepard’s role increased, but so did those of Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard and Corey Coleman. Two of the three caught a touchdown and the one who didn’t, Coleman, caught a 30-yard pass.
“We have guys who have been here and guys who know what they’re doing and who you trust,” Eli Manning said on Wednesday. “You have reps with them. I feel comfortable with all the guys out there.”
Of course, Beckham wasn’t the only wide receiver lost to injury last season. The Giants were also without Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris, plus Shepard missed a few games. They have been remarkably healthy at that position – most positions — all season. And they still could have Beckham on the field on Sunday.
“I think he’s getting better each day,” Pat Shurmur said.
But there’s no rush.
Notes & quotes: Another Giants starter who did not practice on Wednesday could actually have more impact on the Giants’ game plan than Beckham. Tight end Rhett Ellison, whose blocking has become a key to the team’s run-first personality, is dealing with a sprained ankle. If he cannot play, the Giants will rely more on Scott Simonson to give them added muscle at the line of scrimmage.