Lions' Jim Caldwell planning on Beckham playing for Giants
By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell isn’t wasting time worrying whether Odell Beckham Jr. will play for the New York Giants.
When Caldwell drew up his game plan for Monday night’s contest between the Lions (1-0) and Giants (0-1) at MetLife Stadium, there was a section for dealing with the catalyst of the Giants’ offense.
If Beckham’s sprained left ankle keeps him out of a second straight game, the Lions have other plans.
Heading into the game, it looks like Beckham will play. The three-time Pro Bowler practiced on a limited basis this week for the first time since hurting his ankle in a preseason game on Aug. 21. He moved well in the parts of practice that the media were able to watch, and Friday he caught some passes and made cuts in a red-zone drill.
He was listed as questionable in Saturday’s final injury report. His status for the game will be determined in warmups Monday night.
“We look at it as if we anticipate that he’s going to play,” Caldwell said. “We go at it that way. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t, and we adjust.”
The Giants did very little on offense without Beckham last week, gaining 233 yards in a 19-3 loss to the Cowboys.
“They’re good with or without him, but he is a dynamic player,” Lions safety Glover Quin said, referring to Beckham, who has led the Giants in receiving in each of his first three seasons. “When you add him to the mix, obviously that changes things up a lot. But regardless, they got weapons all over the field and a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, so they’re a talented group. Odell just adds to it.”
Quin said there was no doubt that Beckham would pass up the chance to play in a home opener in prime time.
“You just have to understand where he’s at,” Quin said. “He’s an explosive guy. He can turn a short pass into a long touchdown. He demands different type of attention because he is so dynamic. There’s certain things you may do with coverages and schemes, and calls you may make could be affected by if he’s on the field, or if he’s not. But you always got to prepare like he’s going to be there. And if he’s not, we’ll adjust.”
Most teams that have faced the Giants in the past two seasons have employed a two-deep formation with their safeties. The Cowboys did it and Eli Manning never had a chance to go deep because his woeful offensive line never provided time to throw, and the running game was limited to 35 yards on 12 carries.
If an offense runs the ball effectively, the two-deep formation can be exploited.
“You have to run the ball better and you have to be patient with some of the opportunities that are there, from the pass-game standpoint,” Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “Because if they’re taking away some of your deeper shots, you have to be patient enough to go ahead and take that completion, win the down, put yourself in a position. But you hit the nail on the head: We have to be able to run the ball.”
The Lions’ offense was in midseason form in its 35-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Matthew Stafford threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns in engineering yet another fourth-quarter or overtime comeback. He did it an NFL-record eight times last season and he now has 27 winning drives in the fourth quarter or OT since 2011, most in the league.
Stafford, the league’s highest-paid player, faced the Giants here in December. Playing with an injured middle finger on his throwing hand, he threw for 273 yards in a 17-6 loss.
“Tim Walton, one of our secondary coaches, was with him in Detroit and he knows him inside and out,” Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “Practiced against him and he says he’s very intelligent, he can make all the throws, and now that he has been in the system there for two to three years and he’s been a quarterback in this league for — help me out — maybe eight. That’s an experienced quarterback that knows how to win. He’s really dangerous.”