New York Giants cornerback Sam Beal made a lunging stop near the goal line that became a tackle in the end zone for a safety in Week 15’s game win against the Dolphins in the 2019 season.
Looking back, the play is a lone highlight in what has become a tumultuous, albeit brief, NFL career for Beal. A third-round supplemental draft pick in 2018, Beal has played in only six NFL games, all in 2019. He missed the entire 2018 season due to a shoulder injury and a hamstring injury in 2019 delayed his debut until November. In his six games, Beal recorded 26 tackles and a passer rating in coverage of 104.2, according to Pro Football Focus. Last season, Beal opted out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The on-field injuries and lack of playing time are not the only obstacles Beal faces as he tries to earn himself a spot on an already-crowded Giants secondary. In June, Beal pleaded guilty to two gun-related charges in Lorain County, Ohio, from a June 2020 arrest. Beal was stopped for a traffic violation and then charged with carrying a concealed weapon and improperly handling a firearm in a vehicle, in addition to marijuana possession. He is now on two-year probation.
“There’s ups and downs,” Beal said of the last 12 months in his media availability Monday. “But I’m here today enjoying it right now and having fun. I can only speak for right now, and right now I’m enjoying it.”
In training camp, Beal will try to avoid the specter of legal issues that have haunted his past year and shake off the rust of missing an entire season to prove that not only does he deserve a spot on the Giants, but that he can make it in the NFL.
In order to successfully move forward though, Beal has to address the past. Beal was initially indicted on gun charges in August 2020 and informed the Giants he was opting out for 2020 eight days prior. He said that a lot of factors were involved in his decision to opt out, beyond the legal concerns.
“At the time, it was the best decision for me,” Beal said. “Sometimes you gotta take responsibility for your family, gotta take care of the people around you, take care of yourself.”
Beal said that he has since talked with the Giants coaching staff about the charges.
“Anybody in that position would want to explain themselves, you know what I mean? Because if things didn’t happen the way they should’ve, of course, you would want them to know your side of the story and what happened. So, of course I talked to a bunch of coaches and let them know my side of the story of what really happened. And a lot of guys on social media had a story or something and they didn’t necessarily have the true facts. I would’ve loved for you guys to have asked me first about what really happened instead of going off of what somebody else said because a lot of things you guys said weren’t true.”
When asked if there was anything he wanted to clarify about the legal issues, Beal said, “It’s kind of too late now, so I’ll let you guys go about it how you guys go about it. I’ll go about it how I go about it.”
Regardless of the reason for opting out, Beal had to adjust to observing his Giants teammates from afar.
“I have a really good relationship with a lot of guys here,” Beal said. “Sometimes I would watch the games and I enjoyed watching them play. Sometimes I would just sit and work out. I didn’t play the game, so I would get the same type of feeling sometimes. It was different, but I dealt with it the best I could.”
Though he missed a season of playing, Beal said that he still has high expectations for himself.
“Anybody that competes in the game wants to be better than they were two or three years ago,” Beal said.
Beal will have no shortage of competition as there are 11 cornerbacks in Giants camp. James Bradberry and newly-acquired Adoree’ Jackson will headline the group. Darnay Holmes is set in the slot and third-round pick Aaron Robinson looks poised to make the final roster despite suffering a core muscle injury in practice. Sixth-round selection Rodarius Williams has shown flashes of promise in camp while Isaac Yiadom, Madre Harper and Jarren Williams will all return from last season. Add in Chris Milton and Qunicy Wilson and there is plenty of depth in the secondary.
Beal is not intimated by competition though.
“When you’ve got competitors with you, it makes it fun, especially when you’ve got a relationship with the guys and they’re all teaching every day,” Beal said. “So, when you make plays, they make plays, it’s always fun to watch in the film room. I’m just going to enjoy it. Just speak to the guys that accomplished a lot, places I want to be, positions I want to be in. I just look at them and tell myself every day to just try and get better.”
Though it generally takes time for a player who has missed a season to get back in NFL shape, Beal said that the Giants coaches are preparing him well.
“It’s a great coaching staff, they actually helped me along kind of faster than I thought it would be, so now I’m kind of playing how I want to play,” Beal said. “I can be a step faster, be a little bit stronger. That’s why I trust my coaches.”
That trust is significant as Beal is working with almost an entirely new coaching staff since the changes in the Giants’ front office following Joe Judge’s arrival last season.
“With a new coaching staff, it was just like, okay, time to show the guy what I can do,” Beal said. “I’m going to feel them out, they’re going to feel me out, you know what I mean? And ever since I got in here, it’s been great. I enjoy the atmosphere, it’s competitive, it’s fast. They’re all just taking care of us.”
On coach Judge: “I love him. He teaches me more every day. He lets you compete, that’s what I love. When I came in here, I didn’t know what to expect, but now I know that every day you have to be at your best. You want him to see you at your best. I try to be my best every day.”
Despite the ups and downs that have defined his NFL tenure, Beal said that he has maintained the same confidence that he first entered the league with three years ago.
“If you play DB, you should never lose your confidence because every game you go out, you can get beat or you could have the best game of your life,” Beal said. “So, I will never lose that competitive side that I have always had. I’ll continue to be competitive and compete every day.”