The Colts jumped on the Giants early last night and poured on more points after halftime, but one positive came out of Big Blue's performance: Odell Beckham, Jr. The rookie receiver made the most of garbage time and put together a eight-catch, 156-yard breakout performance.
Beckham debuted in Week 5 after a hamstring injury kept him out at the start of the season, but his role's grown rapidly since Victor Cruz tore his patellar tendon in Week 6. Over the last four games, his snap counts have increased from 30 to 60 to 66 to 77, and in that time he's already racked up 64 DYAR—about as much as Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald have all year. Running back Rashad Jennings has been dealing with an MCL sprain for the past few weeks, and second-string Andre Williams has been spotty, so New York's turned to a "fuck it, let Eli Manning throw" strategy. It came to a head against Indianapolis last night, when Manning attempted 52 passes and targeted Beckham 11 times. Sure, the Colts' defense laid off a bit with a substantial lead later in the game, but Beckham's skills shined.
The LSU product's 5-foot-11, somewhat small for an outside receiver, but he compensates with his hands and vertical. He showed off both before the game, in a Vine you probably saw a few times last night:
Beckham doesn't unnecessarily leave his feet for passes—cough, Brandon Lloyd—but if Manning lets a pass soar a little too high, Beckham can usually get his hands on the ball. He also has stellar cutting ability, as he displayed on a big gain after the catch in the third quarter (go to 2:56 in this video), curling back out to the sideline and losing Colts cornerback Greg Toler for an eventual 59-yard gain. (The one minor complaint here is that if Beckham didn't try to cut again as he was burning the middle of the field, he could've had a few more yards.)
There are other faces seeing more of the field with Cruz's injury, Mario Manningham's aborted return, and Hakeem Nicks's departure. Fellow LSU alum Rueben Randle leads the team with 38 catches for 370 yards, but though he's seen more time than Beckham, he has -54 DYAR. (Gross.) Breakout tight end Larry Donnell had a hot streak, and sits at 37 receptions for 357 yards for the season, but defenses have adapted to defend him well. (After Donnell's three-touchdown game against Washington, he had a two-game stretch where he totaled one catch for six yards.) Preston Parker's seen some time in the slot, but he's barely a third receiver at this point. Beckham demands coverage and gives the other options, particularly Donnell, some room to breathe.
New York might be fading away from the playoffs this season, but Beckham can utilize his snaps in the second half of the season to build a working relationship with Manning and finish his abbreviated rookie campaign on a strong note. When Cruz returns next season, Beckham should be at the top of the depth chart with him. If the Giants somehow screw around and break out one of those bipolar 6-2 second halves this year, he'll be doing even more than that.