Odell Beckham Jr. can drop diva tag with big night at Packers

GREEN BAY – So far, Odell Beckham Jr. is making Josh Norman look like a soothsayer.

So far, Beckham has validated every single indictment of his character that the Washington cornerback unloaded in the preseason. If that isn’t enough motivation for Beckham to control his emotions, he should know that so-labeled diva receivers may rack up stats, but in the NFL, their teams rarely win Super Bowls.

Beckham’s realization that he doesn’t want to “set a bad example” for kids is a positive step, but he shouldn’t just be concerned about what a 6-year-old Giants fan thinks. What about the example he’s setting for one of his own teammates?

First, consider the fortune-telling comments of Norman, in an Aug. 23 ESPN story by Kevin Van Valkenburg that marked only the latest in a string of offseason trash-talk exchanged between Norman and Beckham via interviews and social media.

“Everybody saw what he was,” Norman said of Beckham’s three personal fouls to Norman’s two in their cage-match-style battle in Week 15 of last season, when Norman was a Carolina Panther. “People from around the league were coming up to me afterward and saying, ‘He does that crap all the time.’ He lost so much respect from people for that little tantrum. I’ve already got a couple people telling me, ‘OK, I’ve got a hit out on him.’ It’s going to be rough for him this year. And he brought it on himself.

“He’s skilled and talented,” Norman added. “I won’t take that away from him. But he’s never been through any adversity in his life. It’s like, when are you ever going to grow up?”

Beckham stats aren’t completely “rough.” He has 22 catches for 303 yards, or an average of 5.5 catches and 75.75 yards per game. But he is tied for second in the NFL with three dropped passes, per NBC Sports, has zero touchdowns, and was jogging back after a Minnesota interception on a pass intended for him Monday.

Plus, after just four games, Beckham is having a “rough” go navigating the fallout of his continued on-field tantrums, while former players and fans keep asking Norman’s question: When will he ever grow up?

The Giants are in a tough spot because Beckham is their best individual talent, so they have to tolerate him. However, look at the history of the modern diva receiver: You won’t find many championship rings.

Maybe Santonio Holmes qualifies for the Super Bowl XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers. Keyshawn Johnson won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Michael Irvin won three in the 1990s but on a Dallas Cowboys team that was absolutely stacked. That’s it.

This isn’t just about winning, though. It’s also about the Giants protecting their future.

Storylines abounded in the preseason about how much of a mentor Beckham was becoming to rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard, but head coach Ben McAdoo had better watch that relationship closely.

In Minnesota last Monday night, as the third quarter came to a close, Victor Cruz – the real voice of reason in this receiving corps – had to separate Shepard from some Vikings defenders. Shepard was yapping hard at the Vikes, though it was unclear why: Minnesota safety Andrew Sendejo had made a big hit on Shepard in the second quarter that the Giants seemed to think was helmet-on-helmet, and on the last play of the third quarter, Captain Munnerlyn had tackled an already-falling Shepard for a two-yard gain.

Shepard, you will recall, also got up quickly from a dangerous hit by Washington’s Norman in Week 3 at MetLife Stadium and flexed both of his biceps in the loud-mouthed corner’s face. San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde was just flagged 15-yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for doing the same thing against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football.

Sterling Shepard flexes after taking a shot from Washington cornerback Josh Norman in Week 3.

Sterling Shepard flexes after taking a shot from Washington cornerback Josh Norman in Week 3.

(Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Shepard definitely has some refreshing flair and clear talent, but the rookie may find license to cross the line himself if his friend and mentor continues to lack discipline.

Beckham, Eli Manning and the Giants offense could have a huge passing night against the Packers on Sunday: Green Bay veteran corner Sam Shields is out, and the next corner up, Damarious Randall, is questionable.

If Beckham continues his sideshow, though, there will be an appropriate amount of conversation about any on-field success, and frankly, there probably won’t be a Giants win at Lambeau Field, in Beckham’s first-ever trip to the hallowed Midwest gridiron.

McADOO GOING HOME

McAdoo, 39, the Giants’ first-year coach, called Green Bay his home for eight years, as the Packers’ tight ends coach (2006-11) and quarterbacks coach (2012-13), winning Super Bowl XLV with the organization. He married his wife, Toni, there, and his daughter, Larkin, and son, BJ, were born there. But McAdoo has demonstrated an unnatural, steely focus about the homecoming to face mentor Mike McCarthy.

“No,” McAdoo said when asked he feels a sense of nostalgia. “It will be a great challenge for us Sunday night. We look forward to it.”

SUPER SUCCESS VS. THE PACK

Manning has a 4-3 record all-time against the Packers, including playoff wins over Green Bay at Lambeau Field during the Giants’ runs to Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Big Blue won the NFC Championship Game, 23-20, in overtime on Jan. 20, 2008, the coldest game in Giants history; and won the divisional round, 37-20, over the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers on Jan. 15, 2012. Manning has only a 57.9 career completion percentage against the Packers, with 13 TDs and eight INTs. But that includes at least three TD passes in three of their last four meetings.

MONDAY-SUNDAY

The Giants have a 7-3 all-time record in road games coming off a Monday night road game the previous week. … The Giants have a 20-27-1 record on Sunday nights, including 10-15-1 on the road. Manning is 11-16 on Sunday nights in his career … The Giants are 28-31 overall in games coming off a Monday night game … Green Bay is coming off its bye week but that does not necessarily give the Packers an advantage. The Giants are 9-6 since 1990 when their opponents are coming off a bye and the Giants are not.

***

GIANTS (2-2) AT PACKERS (2-1), LAMBEAU FIELD, 8:30 PM

LINE: Packers by 7

OVER/UNDER: 48

TV: Ch. 4 (Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth)

RADIO: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM (Bob Papa and Carl Banks)

FORECAST: Mostly clear. Hi 61°, Low 47°. Chance of rain: 9%

GIANTS HOT READ: RB BOBBY RAINEY

It appears as though running back Rashad Jennings will miss his third straight game with a thumb injury. At best, he’ll see limited action. So the Giants — who already placed versatile backup Shane Vereen on injured reserve two weeks ago because of a triceps injury — will again try to find production elsewhere. Orleans Darkwa figures to be the feature rushing back for the second straight game. He finished with 48 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in the loss to the Vikings. But look for Bobby Rainey to play a major role in the passing game. The Packers are allowing the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league, and with the secondary focused on slowing down the Giants’ three-headed monster of Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, Eli Manning could turn to Rainey for some dump-offs and screen passes. Rainey proved to be a viable threat in that regard last week in Minny, when he lead all Big Blue receivers with seven catches.

TRAINING ROOM: S Nat Berhe (concussion), TE Larry Donnell (concussion), RT Marshall Newhouse (calf) and S Darian Thompson (foot) are OUT. CB Eli Apple (hamstring), RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) are QUESTIONABLE.

PACKERS HOT READ: CB DAMARIOUS RANDALL

AN AUG. 18, 2016 FILE PHOTO

If he plays through his groin injury, Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (l.) will face off against Odell Beckham Jr.

(Matt Ludtke/AP)

Sam Shields is the Packers’ top cornerback, and he would normally take on the responsibility of matchup up with the opponents’ No. 1 wide receiver — in the Giants’ case, Odell Beckham Jr. But Shields has been sidelined with a concussion since Week 1, so Green Bay’s second corner, Damarious Randall, will have the honors of trying to guard Beckham, who is coming off the worst game of his career in Monday night’s loss to the Vikings in Minneapolis.

Beckham hasn’t found the end zone yet this year, and much has been made of his on-field antics, emotional outbursts and personal fouls. But none of that will matter if Beckham breaks out Sunday. He’s due. And that’s bad news for Randall, who’s endured some tough games while filling in for Shields and is questionable with a groin injury. The Vikings’ Stefon Diggs put up 182 yards and touchdown against Randall in Week 2, and the Lions’ Marvin Jones went for over 200 yards and two touchdowns on Randall the following week. Beckham will be looking for that type of performance on Sunday.

TRAINING ROOM: TE Jared Cook (ankle) and CB Sam Shields (concussion) are OUT. CB Damarious Randall (groin) is QUESTIONABLE.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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