While many Giants players wait to see whether Odell Beckham Jr. will play on Sunday against the Cowboys, Roger Lewis Jr. may be the one most affected by the decision.
The second-year receiver likely will start against the Cowboys if Beckham’s ankle injury prevents him from playing. If Beckham can, Lewis likely will be relegated to a backup role and special teams.
Lewis said he is rooting for Beckham.
“If he does play, that’d be great,” he told Newsday. “But if he doesn’t, there will be more opportunities and it’s time to go out and show what I can do.”
Lewis had that chance a little bit last year, catching seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one start, filling in for an injured Victor Cruz in Week 10 against the Bengals.
“I got my chance last year, but it’s a different year,” Lewis said. “I want it to be a new year, a new me. I just want to go out and ball, do what I been doing since I was 5.”
That he gets a chance to do that in any capacity, Lewis knows, is special. During the offseason, he was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle while impaired. According to police reports, officers also found a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle. Those charges were dropped just before the start of training camp in late July.
There were some who assumed the Giants would part ways with Lewis based on that infraction, as well as others. Lewis was among the group of receivers who spent the night partying in Miami ahead of the Giants’ playoff loss to the Packers. He also was arrested in high school on two counts of rape, acquitted on one charge while the second was declared a mistrial by a locked jury. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge rather than face a retrial and was given 3 years’ probation. He did lose out on a chance to play at Ohio State because of that situation and eventually landed at Bowling Green before signing with the Giants as an undrafted rookie last year.
Lewis had football taken away from him once before, though he got it back. He admitted he was nervous that his latest brush with the law would do the same — for good this time.
“With a situation like this, I did think about that,” he said. “But I put my faith in God and stayed to my dreams, not letting the outside affect me. Just sticking to football, to be honest.”
Lewis still might face repercussions from the arrest this past spring. According to a source, the NFL is still reviewing his case and he could face discipline under the league’s policy on personal conduct. At some point this season, he still could face a suspension. But not this week.
That’s why, regardless of whether Beckham plays or not on Sunday night, Lewis will be glad just to be on the field.
“It’s a blessing, all in all, to still be doing what I love,” he said. “To still do what I love every day is a blessing, so I come out and give it all I got every day.”