There was no talk on Wednesday from the New York Giants about star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. bringing unwanted attention to himself or being a distraction. There were only defenses of a passionate young player.
“I think he has great passion for the game. He has a great desire to be one heck of a player. One thing I would hate to see him lose is that drive and passion,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “I like him as a salty, competitive player. That’s when he plays at his best. We just need to be productive when we’re doing it.”
McAdoo was asked if Beckham walks a fine line between playing with passion and playing outside the rules.
“Absolutely. You have to stay within the rules,” he said. “I want him to play with a salty, physical and attacking mindset.”
Quarterback Eli Manning, who had said earlier in the week that Beckham brought the added scrutiny on himself, had the wide receiver’s back on Wednesday.
“I think he'll be fine. It was one play that he got hit a little late on the sidelines. One play out of many; I don't think we have to make a big deal about it,” Manning said. “I don't know if he should have been called for it (the penalty vs. the Vikings). He thought he was hit late; he didn't hit anybody late. He just seemed to be complaining more to the referee about it more than anything. He obviously got called for taunting. I don't know if that was taunting necessarily. Again, he had one incident last year that I kind of feel was inappropriate with Norman. Since that, I don't think he's done anything that's been harmful to another player so I don't think it's a big deal. “
What about Beckham saying he isn’t having fun?
“No one likes losing and we just lost two in a row. It's not fun to lose games,” Manning said. “Last week, offensively, we didn't play as well as we needed to, so it was a tough game and it's not exactly fun playing a tough game.”
Offensive lineman Justin Pugh also defended Beckham.
"If I was going out there and I'm an All-Pro player and I'm not playing at that level or things aren't going the way that I want them to, that's frustrating," Pugh said. "But it's tough to see a 23-year-old kid, every little thing he does is all over SportsCenter. They've got nothing else they can talk about besides Odell. It's tough. It's tough to see as a teammate." ...
"I feel bad that one person is getting singled out," Pugh said. "He's not being a distraction. He's emotional. There's emotional players all over this league. Obviously things aren't going his way so there's going to be a microscope on him and I feel bad that that has to be the case because this is 11-on-11 football. If he doesn't have a good game, maybe it's because we let up a pressure or something didn't happen the way it was supposed to happen. That's not on him." ...
"I want to go out and play. I know he wants to go out and play," Pugh said. "Answering questions about it every week is not going to change how I feel about it. Every week I still want to go to work, he still wants to go to work. End of story. So I'm not answering any more questions about Odell because it's just pointless."
In the end, all anyone can hope is that Beckham gets back to producing the way he can and the Giants’ offense plays up to its capability.