The Titans rank dead-last against the run, and while it may seem prudent for the Giants to attack via the ground, Odell Beckham Jr. said he also wants his cracks at the league's 25th-ranked pass defense.
The rookie wideout is highly confident right now, fueled in part by his catch for the ages two week ago. He's also coming off a Rookie of the Month award. But the receiver said above the recent accolades, he's been lobbying for a more aggressive passing attack.Beckham felt that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo "took the foot off the pedal" last week and feels Sunday in Tennessee is the perfect time to strike through the air.
"You should always keep attacking and I think we all learned from that. We should never lose a game like that again," Beckham said, who's only had five total targets in the last two games. "I think we'll do a better job at keep moving forward this week."
McAdoo sounded like a guy who learned a lesson and will likely feature Beckham more in the passing game this week. He noted that "any time you can get the ball in his hands would be wise," so the struggling Titans' secondary could be in for a long afternoon.
The offensive coordinator stopped short of saying the Giants will force-feed the rookie, noting that even when Beckham looks open in single coverage, there will likely always be a safety or linebacker bracketing the wideout. But he did add they'll make adjustments on the fly, specifically in big-time moments.
"I think teams are conscious of where he is and the impact that he can have on the game," said McAdoo. "In difficult times, you think of players, not plays, and he is one of the guys we need to think of in critical times in the game, so we'll try [to get him the ball]. Wetrain him in a variety of spots. He has done a nice job there really. You saw at the end of the [Jaguars] game there in that drive we scored with three minutes left, we moved him in some different spots and got back to some simple, basic things and got his hands on the ball a couple of times there. ... He's been impressive."
The rookie led all players, not just rookies -- with 118.6 receiving yards per game last month, and was the first rookie with at least 90 receiving yards in five games in a single month.
The Titans' starting quarterback, Zach Mettenberger was Beckham’s starting quarterback the previous two seasons at LSU, so if anyone knows how dangerous Beckham can be on Sunday, it's Mettenberger.
“Without a doubt, he is the best athlete I have ever been around personally,” Mettenberger said. “Not just football, but basketball, baseball, soccer. He can do it all [and] I have seen him do it all. I am very proud of him and the work he has put in, and the success he is having on the field.”
Beckham also impressed Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who admitted that slowing down Beckham is near the top of the Titans' list.
“Certainly, he is growing as a young player,” Whisenhunt said. “I think you can see his confidence has increased and he is making a lot of plays and he is one you certainly have to be aware of.”
Perry Fewell, the Giants' embattled defensive coordinator, is so enamored with Beckham's natural ability that he admitted he tried to recruit Beckham to be a cornerback in training camp -- and the coach wasn't kidding.
It's highly unlikely that Beckham will get the chance to pick off his old friend Mettenberger on Sunday, but wherever he lines up on offense, Beckham is sure to be Eli Manning's prime target, as the Giants look to attack a blitz-heavy Titans' defense.
"They do a good job getting some pressure on the quarterback, with a lot of different looks, a lot of different blitzes, so it's something that we have to have great preparation," Manning said. "We need to take advantage of one-on-ones when they blitz, but also be careful [because] we don’t know them real well. It’s not a team we face a whole lot. They’ve got a pretty complex system, a lot of personnel, a lot of different combinations of blitzes and coverage’s and they’ve changed up from week-to-week some, so we’ve got to be prepared for everything and expect there to be something new and hopefully our guys react to that as well."
Big Blue notes:
- Although he missed the first four games with a hamstring injury, Beckham leads the Giants with 699 receiving yards. He is third with 48 receptions and second with five touchdown catches. His 48 receptions tie Bobby Johnson (1984) for the second-highest total by a rookie in franchise history. In November, Beckham became the first rookie receiver in NFL history with five games with at least 90 receiving yards in a calendar month.
- The Giants' injury list featured tackle James Brewer (concussion), linebackers Mark Herzlich (concussion) and Jacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder), and running back Rashad Jennings (ankle) not being able to practice.
- Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf), linebacker Jameel McClain (knee), and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/shoulder) were limited.
- Wideout Preston Parker was a late addition to the injury report with a knee injury. He was also limited in practice today.