The Giants are spending their Christmas figuring out how to win with Odellf on the shelf.
“With the Giants, it’s usually the next man who steps up,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said, “but in this case, it’s pretty hard because of who it is.”
The Giants have spent most of this season looking toward Beckham whenever they needed an offensive boost. Now he’ll be serving a one-game suspension and be unavailable to them when they face the Vikings on Sunday night. So who can become the playmaker in his absence?
The fact that there is no clear answer may be alarming.
“Rueben [Randle] comes to mind,” Tom Coughlin said on Thursday. “[Dwayne] Harris has made plays for us in the past. Hakeem [Nicks] has made great catches for us in the past. Obviously, the opportunity is going to be there for everybody to contribute. Will Tye has made some nice plays for us. Coming out of the backfield, Shane [Vereen] has done a nice job. Myles [White] is going to work in there again today and we’ll see as we go along.”
If Harris, who was spotted still wearing a sling on his arm to protect his ailing shoulder and was limited in practice on Thursday, can’t play, it could be another blow to the pass-catching group. The Giants will monitor him closely before taking the field in Minnesota. As insurance, they promoted rookie wide receiver Ben Edwards from the practice squad to the active roster to fill the spot left by Beckham’s suspension.
Randle is the most likely player to be leaned on. He’s been here the longest and is a second-round pick in his fourth year. He’s never played as a number one receiver, though, and has had an up-and-down season. His production is roughly half what Beckham has given the Giants this season: 51 catches for 638 yards and six touchdowns compared with Beckham’s 91 for 1,396 and 13 TDs.
Randle spoke a few weeks ago about his frustration stemming from a lack of opportunities, but it’s unlikely he’ll have the same complaint after this game.
“I can’t let it affect me,” Randle said. “My job is to go out there and make sure I know what I’m doing and make some plays. I’m not going to try to change anything. I know a lot of responsibility falls on this receiver corps with him being out, so we’ve got to make sure we are all on the same page and make sure we have a big game.”
Coughlin said he hopes the team is galvanized and rallies around the lack of their best offensive threat. He spoke about “the bond that occurs between teammates when they are challenged, and this certainly is a challenge.”
“We’ve got to pull together and get contributions from everyone,” he added. “I hope to make a statement about our football team going forward. Facing a challenge, facing adversity, many, many guys have got to step up.”
Notes & quotes: Left tackle Ereck Flowers (illness) did not practice on Thursday. Coughlin said several players have been dealing with illness . . . Linebacker James Morris (quadriceps) did not practice . . . Defensive end George Selvie was cleared from the concussion protocol and was a full participant in practice . . . Coughlin suggested that linebacker Devon Kennard (foot) likely will not be ready to play before the end of the regular season next week, but if the Giants somehow make the playoffs, he might be able to get back on the field. “There’s always hope,” Coughlin said. “That’s why we’re keeping him on the roster.”