EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. is back and the New York Giants plan to get him the ball whenever possible.
Playing in a game for the first time since breaking his left ankle 11 months ago, the NFL’s highest-paid receiver caught 11 passes for 111 yards in the 20-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The three-time Pro Bowler also drew two pass interference calls late in the first half to set up a field goal. Through Sunday, the 11 catches were the second-highest single-game total in Week 1, trailing only the 16 by Michael Thomas of the Saints in a 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Eli Manning targeted Beckham 15 times, which was roughly 41 percent of his 37 pass attempts. Coach Pat Shurmur said Monday the number of throws to Beckham was a mixture of his plays being called and how Manning went through his progressions. The new coach smiled a bit when asked if the targets were too high.
“Fifteen shots to Odell. I think we might be here some day when he doesn’t get that many and you’re saying: ‘Why don’t you throw it to him 15 times?’” Shurmur said.
“Again, every snap was not man and so there were some progression-related throws where, on a couple of those underneath throws to Odell, the initial read was maybe Saquon (Barkley) would run a wheel route.”
Shurmur wants all his receivers to get touches, but he will take what he gets.
Manning did spread the ball around. Wide out Sterling Shepard had five catches, while tight end Even Engram had two along with Barkley and fellow running back Wayne Gallman. The other went to tight end Rhett Ellison. Manning said the Jaguars dictated some of his throws to Beckham because they play a safety in a center field position a lot.
“We want to try to get him the ball,” Manning said Monday. “They’re a one-high team. We got a lot of one-on-one coverage. I thought he looked good. I thought he was running well. Ran some great routes, got open, and looked explosive.”
Beckham walked through the locker room briefly Monday but didn’t stop to talk.
After the game, he said it was great to play, especially after working so hard to get back. He also liked what he saw from the Giants in their first game under Shurmur.
“We competed all the way up until the end, we had a lot of energy on the sideline,” Beckham said. “Like you said, there are a lot of positives we can take from it, you just want to come out with the W.”
The Giants go on the road next weekend to face the Cowboys (0-1) in Dallas on Sunday night.
“The important thing is you move forward,” Shurmur said. “You learn from the mistakes you made, you build on the things you did well and you just keep moving. That’s the important piece.
“That may get old as we go through these Mondays with me saying that, but you can win a game and still go through that process. When you lose a game, it hurts more, but you still go through the same process.”
Ereck Flowers, who was moved to right tackle this season with the signing of Nate Solder, struggled early, drawing a tripping and holding penalties on the first series. He drew criticism from many circles.
“I could take it, it’s whatever,” Flowers said Monday. “I’m playing for the dudes in my room, dudes on this team that I’ve been working with all season and I don’t have an issue with it. That’s going to be there, regardless. It doesn’t matter, I don’t lose sleep over it. I lose sleep over what these guys in my room and on this team think about me, that’s it.”
NOTES: Olivier Vernon refused to discuss the ankle injury that kept him out of the opener. He deferred all questions to Shurmur. ... RB Wayne Gallman had no update on his knee injury, but said he would like to play against Dallas. ... Shurmur said Manning audibled to a run by Barkley on the failed 2-point conversion try. It came just seconds after Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run. ... Manning said the timeout the Giants called at the start of the second half was needed after his helmet headphone failed before the play was sent in.
For more AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL