The New York Giants will be without Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night as he serves his one-game suspension. OBJ has been the Giants only real receiving threat as Victor Cruz failed to make it on the field in 2015. Rueben Randle has underperformed and at times seemed out of sync with Eli Manning in his best statistical season of his career. Against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, a banged-up Dwayne Harris will have to pick up the slack left by OBJ.
Harris missed some practice time this week with an injured shoulder. He was even spotted wearing a sling in the practice facility. Harris is fourth on the Giants with 35 receptions and has been well worth the big money contract he was given in the offseason. Harris is listed as questionable for Sunday night, but he maintains that he will play through the pain.
Manning said this week that the gameplan will not change without Beckham in the lineup. “We’ve got guys, great opportunity for other guys to step up,” Manning said. “The guys know what they’re doing, guys know the routes, guys know how to get open and we’ll go about it and make plays.” Sounds simple, but there’s no denying that Beckham’s ability to get open and turn a short completion into a big gain will be missing against Minnesota.
Rueben Randle should be the obvious choice as a big-play threat without OBJ, but he has failed to develop a report with Manning and his targets have gone down as the season progressed. He was even benched in favor of Hakeem Nicks and complained on WFAN about his lack of targets in the offense opposite OBJ.
Harris has contributed in the receiving game and has seem to overcome his early bout with the drops. Manning’s options at receiver beyond Randle and Harris are limited to say the least. Hakeem Nicks played the most snaps of the season last week against the Carolina Panthers last week, but he hasn’t been a productive NFL receiver since his last stint with the Giants. Myles White and Geremy Davis have six catches between them this season and both will likely see playing time Sunday.
Harris will likely have the most targets of his career against the Minnesota Vikings and, if the Giants hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, he better make the most of them. Harris has excelled when given the opportunity where Randle has underwhelmed. Expect Harris to have a big impact in the passing game, but in the end it may not be enough to overcome the Vikings.