The long-running Odell Beckham Jr. hamstring injury saga, which -- setback or not -- once again finds the New York Giants first-round pick sidelined, has had one positive consequence. It has given young wide receivers like Marcus Harris and Corey Washington increased opportunities, and both players have taken advantage of the chance.
Washington has created the biggest splash, with game-winning catches in all three of the Giants preseason games, including a 73-yarder, and seven total catches for an average of 16.6 yards per grab.
Harris, although not as flashy, has been equally impressive. He leads Giants receivers with eight receptions and is averaging 11.6 yards per catch.
Both players have been getting some first-team reps during practices.
"It [Beckham being sidelined] was definitely an opportunity. A big opportunity," Harris said. "I don't like to look at it that way. Like I said, hopefully he gets out on the field soon because we need him. He is our first round draft pick. The opportunity for me to get plays? Yeah, but I don't look at is as a positive with him being hurt and me getting plays. We're hoping for a quick recovery and to get him back."
Harris has also been used as both a gunner on the punt team and as a fullback. The Giants appear to like what Harris can do on special teams, which gives him an advantage in the competition for a roster spot.
"They actually have me bouncing around on special teams, starting on almost every special team. They said the more you can do, so they're just trying to see if I can do every position on the field," Harris said. "This week I'm playing fullback on punt so it's a new position, but I'm comfortable with it because I practiced it last year on practice squad. The practice squad really helped me for this year."
One question neither Harris nor Washington can answer is how many wide receivers the Giants will keep. In every roster projection I have done since training camp began I have the Giants keeping six receivers. Five might be considered the 'normal' number, but Beckham's constant battle with hamstring issues seems to make it necessary for the Giants to protect themselves at wide receiver by carrying an extra one.
"If they're evaluated as being solid people that can make the club, then perhaps you have to make an adjustment somewhere else," head coach Tom Coughlin said Tuesday. "Are we against keeping six? No. That's been done before."
Harris and Washington have both shown enough that they likely deserve roster spots. Besides, it seems unlikely either play would pass through waivers so they Giants could re-sign them to the practice squad.