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, N.J. (AP) — With the rehab behind him and the pain gone, three-time New York Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is returning to the NFL with an even bigger target on his back, and an outspoken Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback ready to take a shot at him.
Beckham doesn’t mind. The NFL’s highest paid receiver can’t wait to play in a game for the first time since breaking his left ankle against the Chargers on Oct. 8.
Facing Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey is a plus. And Beckham insists there isn’t going to be a repeat of his Josh Norman debacle in 2016. The 25-year-old isn’t taking the bait this time.
When Beckham gets on the field on Sunday, it will all be about playing the game he loves again.
“I can’t stop thinking about it,” Beckham said Wednesday. “I’m at home, I’ll be in the middle of conversation, my mind doesn’t get off this game. It’s been a long time. There was a lot of hard work and preparation just to be able to get back to running and playing again. So, I’m excited. I’m real excited about this team and the opportunity we have in front of us.”
Beckham has come a long way since the injury, one that put his career in jeopardy more than most people know. It took him months to be able to run, and to watch the videotape of his injury in its entirety. He would watch and turn it off before the hit.
“I didn’t want to see it,” Beckham said. “It reminded me of Joe Prothro at Alabama, that gruesome (leg) injury (2010) that you just don’t want to see again. When it’s you, it’s even harder to watch, because you can feel the pain receptors hit your brain and you can feel it all over again. Just being able to watch that video comfortably and just see.
“I can watch it now any time.”
During training camp, Beckham convinced the Giants he had returned to 100 percent and he was rewarded with a $95 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid player at his position.
“I don’t think that the contract can do anymore for that target on my back,” Beckham said. “Inflicted by the world, inflicted by myself. That target has been on there since I came in, so I don’t know if a contract is going to help. That target increases and decreases. Guys have always wanted to hit me and be able to talk about it. It’s just the reality of where I’m at in life. It’s just something I’ve had to deal with.”
Going against Ramsey will be a challenge but it probably won’t be as personal as the one with Norman. The Redskins cornerback criticized Beckham before their 2016 game. Beckham drew three personal fouls in the contest and was suspended for a game.
He admits he was suckered in by all the pre-game trash talk.
“Yeah, but you took the cheese,” he said. “So, I can’t be mad at anything that happened. I bit on it Malik Hooker Jersey
, so it’s all good.”
Beckham actually developed a friendship working out with Ramsey in the offseason, and he says it is interesting they will be facing each other. Ramsey caused a stir during the summer by saying Beckham made the Giants go, not Eli Manning.
“He’s got all the intangibles,” Beckham said of Ramsey. “He’s athletic and he’s just good. Like I said, he’s just one of the best in the league. He does it all.”
Beckham has the same ability on the other side of the ball. He has 313 catches for 4,424 yards and 38 touchdowns in 47 games. He is already tied for second among all-time Giants’ receivers with three 1,000-yard seasons. His 38 touchdown catches are the second most since entering NFL in 2014.
NOTES: LB Olivier Vernon didn’t practice for the second straight day. Coach Pat Shurmur says the veteran is making great progress. … Shurmur says all his running backs will get touches Sunday. … The Giants signed LB Nate Stupar and waived free agent Rutgers RB Robert Martin.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, rookie Josh Rosen will begin his first NFL season on the sidelines as Arizona's backup quarterback.
The preseason, though, will be his chance to shine, beginning Saturday night when the Cardinals play at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
"We want him to play quite a bit and really get into the flow of the game," coach Steve Wilks said.
Rosen said his two weeks of training camp have "gone really well."
"I think I've gotten better pretty much every day since I've gotten here," the former UCLA star said before Wednesday' practice.
Sam Bradford is Arizona's starter but the Cardinals view Rosen as their franchise quarterback of the future. Why else would they have moved up five spots in the draft to pluck him 10th overall?
Asked for specific areas of improvement since he became a pro, Rosen cites "a bunch of things."
"The most tangible is probably the playbook," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable and fluid with it at the line of scrimmage. I'm focusing more and more with what the defense is trying to do to me rather than making sure I get the right snap count and in the right protection."
He said he's also picking up "the little things on how to use the double-cadence to try and buy yourself time and get someone offside, just little tricks of the trade I didn't know when I was in college."
From the beginning Bradford and Rosen seem to have gotten along well.
"Sam's actually really good with all those little things," Rosen said. "He's a crafty vet and very successful for a lot of different reasons. He might not share every reason with me, but I'll take advantage of the ones that he does."
Bradford said Rosen "asks the right questions."
"He's hungry for information," Bradford said. "It seems like he's always trying to learn something. It doesn't stop in the meeting rooms. Even at the dinner table he'll ask me.
"It's fun to be around someone like that and to hopefully try to be able to help him. I share with him some of the experiences I've had, some of the things I've learned over the years. Hopefully it can relate to him and can help him in some way."
Wilks wouldn't say how much Rosen will play on Saturday night but it will be long enough to do some serious evaluation.
"The mechanics of really running the offense," Wilks said Cody Latimer Color Rush Jersey
, "putting guys in the right position from a protection standpoint, going through his progression and reads and really just trying to detail the fundamentals."
Rosen is running second on the depth chart, ahead of Mike Glennon, who also figures to play a lot Saturday.
Early in camp, Rosen said he was thinking too much.
"I think I've gotten a lot better since then and continue to each day," he said. "The less thinking you can do, the more you can allow yourself to physically do what I've been doing since Pop Warner, and play the game I know."
As a big-name rookie quarterback, Rosen knows his every move will be scrutinized by fans and critics.
"It's part of the game," he said. "I stay relatively offline for the most part. The most pressure I feel from anyone is myself. I'm very, very highly self-critical, almost too much at times. There's no pressure that should be greater than my own."
There's no changing his throwing style either, which includes an occasional sidearm toss on a bubble screen.
"It's not just how hard or far you can throw it," Rosen said. "It's being able to change your arm slot and delivery. I think Aaron (Rodgers) is the best at it because sort of like mid-throw, your ability to throw sidearm to fit a quick screen in there or just kind of contort your body to get halfback screens and stuff in there."
No one has tried to alter that style, he said.
"They drafted me for what I can do and I'm here to deliver that," Rosen said.
He said he's made preparation for the NFL a day-by-day process.
"Right now I'm fully in work mode," he said. "I'm trying to be the best that I can be and over the course of my career I'm trying to win Super Bowls. And right now I'm trying to put my best foot forward in this preseason game."