EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the New York Giants lost top wide receiver Victor Cruz to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, the coaching staff had a clear message for rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
"I said to Odell, 'Your rookie season is over now. You're not a rookie anymore. Congratulations, you're a vet,'" Giants wide receivers coach Sean Ryan said Tuesday.
Beckham has spoken since Cruz's injury about understanding that he needs to take on a greater role. Big things were expected of the Giants' 2014 first-round pick, and his arrival in the NFL was delayed four weeks by a nagging hamstring injury. But he caught two touchdown passes in Sunday's loss in Dallas and has three in three games so far. The Giants aren't afraid to use him in spite of his lack of experience.
"There are going to be bumps in the road because of his youth and trying to figure everything out," Ryan said. "And you fix it as you go and you get the details right, and that's where we're at right now. The talent's there, it's clear to see. But the details have to come now and they have to come quick. There's no time. Those details have to be hammered out right now."
Ryan said Beckham has done a good job making up for lost time by seeking out extra help in film and meeting rooms, as well as on the practice field.
"He's in there for extra meeting time," Ryan said. "He does what he can. If I'm stuck in a meeting and can't meet with him, he'll meet with somebody else. In terms of extra film work and meeting time, he's trying to pick up the slack that way. It's a responsibility he's taking seriously, and he's doing everything he can to get ahead. He's a competitor and he's going to push himself. He's got that desire."
It's clear the Giants are excited about Beckham's ability and looking forward to helping and seeing him develop so that they can find new and creative ways to use him in the offense.
"Anytime you get a player of that talent, you think about getting the ball in his hands," Ryan said. "And then also the ability to move him around so that people can't just target in on him and double up on him. You've got to come up with new and inventive ways to get the ball in his hands as much as you can."
The Giants picked up 13 yards Sunday on an end-around run play with Beckham, which is an example of what Ryan's talking about. Look for more creativity with regard to the use of Beckham in the coming weeks as the Giants work to scheme their way around the personnel shortage created by the loss of captain and top receiver Cruz.
"It affects everyone involved, no question about it," Ryan said. "So you kind of feel your way around, ask guys to step up and take on a role. I thought it was important to be honest about it, kind of acknowledge the loss of Victor and also put the challenge forward to those other guys that it's time to step up in a lot of different ways."
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com | October 21, 2014
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