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New York Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may

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    EAST RUTHERFORD Nate Solder Color Rush Jersey , N.J. (AP) — need to choose his words more carefully.The NFL’s highest-paid receiver created a stir Friday when ESPN released an interview from this week in which the 25-year-old wondered why the team isn’t throwing the ball farther downfield and playing with more energy.The possible cause of his frustration? Four games into the season, Beckham hasn’t caught a touchdown pass. Beckham said the Giants (1-3), who travel to Carolina (2-1) on Sunday, need to get on a run.Here’s how he answered the ESPN question about “the biggest heart of the issue” for the Giants.“How come we can’t throw the ball for more than 20 yards? How come we don’t attempt or try to throw the ball for more than 20 yards?” Beckham said. “Those are questions that we have to figure out, but for now I would say it’s our heart, it’s our energy. It’s what we bring when we line up before the game, all of that. It counts.”The Giants have completed only two passes of more than 30 yards or more this season, and they have only nine passes of 20 yards or greater.Beckham was not in the locker room after practice on Friday to discuss his comments. The catalyst of the Giants’ offense has been on his best behavior this season and more mature after missing most of last season with a broken ankle.While he didn’t throw anyone under the bus, his words indicated he’s upset about losing games.Quarterback Eli Manning brushed off reporters who approached him for comment. A team spokesman said the 37-year-old, two-time Super Bowl winner who has been under scrutiny had a television interview. He never returned to the locker room.Coach Pat Shurmur said he was aware of Beckham’s comments made during a sit down with ESPN reporter Josina Anderson. The coach said he hadn’t seen them. He refused to look at them when a reporter offered to let him read them.“I do know we’re making an effort to do what it takes to score points. I think, if you remember our first drive, the ball didn’t travel down the field, but our team did,” Shurmur said referring to the Giants opening touchdown drive against the New Orleans Saints. “That’s the most important piece and we will continue to try and throw the ball down the field and get the ball down the field and complete it to our playmakers however we need to do it.”When pressed about the comments, Shurmur said Beckham should be the one address them. The coach added execution was the problem for the offense Phil Simms Color Rush Jersey , not energy.Beckham, who signed a five-year, $95 million contract extension in training camp, is having a good season coming off his injury. He leads the team with 31 catches for 331 yards, a 10.7-yard average. But he has not caught a touchdown.Shurmur said he talked to Beckham on Friday but wouldn’t divulge the topics.Fellow receiver Sterling Shepard initially refused to comment on what Beckham said. He later said the players have had a good energy level in practice and need to execute.He felt Beckham might be referring to energy level before the start of games. He said players all approach it differently. Some are quiet while others get amped up.“Some guys want to sit in the locker and look over plays,” Shepard said. “Some guys want to get rowdy and that’s what kind of personality he has. That’s what he likes to see.”Veteran cornerback Michael Thomas wasn’t worried Beckham’s comment would be taken the wrong way.“He’s passionate, but we can’t let our emotions get the best of us,” Thomas said. “He wants to win and do his job, and everybody has to. Everybody has to go out and execute and do their jobs. I don’t look at it as distracting or anything like that. That’s who he is. He is passionate. He wants to be great and make plays. We all do.”NOTES: Linebacker Olivier Vernon was close to getting on the field this week, but he’ll miss his fifth straight game with a high ankle sprain. Tight end Evan Engram (knee) will miss his second straight game. … Starting CB Eli Apple practiced the past two days and is listed as probable. He missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Let’s take a look at five of the key story lines surrounding Sunday’s New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at MetLife Stadium.The return of Jason Pierre-Paul This has been the big story line all week. Former first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul, traded to the Bucs by new GM Dave Gettleman during the offseason, coming back to MetLife Stadiumfor the first time against the Giants and promising that he will be “bringing the house down.”Coming off their best game of the season, the Giants’ offensive line knows a motivated Pierre-Paul will be a handful on Sunday. The job of controlling Pierre-Paul will likely fall mostly on the $62 million shoulders of left tackle Nate Solder.“He’s playing well. He’s got tremendous talent and ability. He plays within the system. They’re putting him in a place to be successful. He can run around guys, he can run through guys, he’s got both of those qualities Harry Carson Color Rush Jersey ,” Solder said.There are sub-plots. Pierre-Paul having 8 sacks while the Giants as a team have only 10. Pierre-Paul saying he was disappointed no one from ownership contacted him when he was traded.The story on Sunday will simply be this — can the Giants block him or not?Home cooking?Both of the Giants’ victories this season have been on the road, where they are 2-3. At home the Giants are 0-4 and have been outscored 107-59. MetLife Stadium crowds are getting used to exiting games long before they are over, often in the third quarter.Can the Giants finally win a game at home? Or, at least keep fans in their seats until the end?“That’ll be big, just the momentum for our team of getting two in a row and getting one in front of our fans,” Saquon Barkley said. “We got two this year, and we haven’t got it done at home. So, that’ll be big for us to get a win at home, and definitely need it.TurnoversTampa Bay managed the seemingly impossible feat last week of generating more than 500 yards in total offense (501 to be exact) and yet getting only a field goal in a 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins.How is that even possible?Well, when you turn the ball over four times and fail to generate any takeaways of your own it certainly goes a long way toward making it happen.The Buccaneers, in fact, have been horrid in the turnover department all season.Tampa Bay is a league-worst -19 in the takeaway/giveaway category. The Bucs are last in the league in giveaways with 25, and 31st in takeaways with only 6.The Giants are 22nd in that category at -2 overall. They have 11 giveaways and 9 takeaways. Eli Manning has thrown six interceptions this season. He’s on pace for 11 interceptions, second-lowest total of his career and his interception rate of 1.7 percent is a career low. Check downs often don’t get you first downs or points, but the flip side is that punts are better than interceptions.Let’s see if the Giants can win the turnover battle on Sunday.Handling all those receiversMike Evans (50 receptions Lawrence Taylor Color Rush Jersey , Chris Godwin (37), Adam Humphries (37 and Giant-killer DeSean Jackson (33) at wide receiver. O.J. Howard (29 receptions) and Cameron Brate (15) at wide receiver.The Buccaneers have a ton of weapons to choose from in the passing game, which is a big reason why they lead the NFL in passing yards and total yards gained. How are the Giants going to handle all of that on Sunday?Defensive coordinator James Bettcher was asked about all those receivers on Thursday. His answer included a whole lot of coach-speak gobbledygook but amounted to him saying the Giants would try but he wasn’t really sure.“Going through and watching every pass in the whole season, you see everything everyone’s tried to do to find a way to slow them down, maybe double a guy, to play coverage, to bring pressure, and I think it’s that good balance of the mix of finding downs in places where you can bring extra guys and speed up the process, create some one on ones and win those one on ones,” Bettcher said. “Then in the back end, you can play zone or you can play man, there’s going to be a lot of times in one on ones you’ve got to win them, and I think all that said, it’s play fundamentally sound football and play fast. That’s really a point of emphasis for us.”OK, then.One thing we are likely to see is more of Landon Collins Carl Banks Color Rush Jersey , playing more of a pseudo-linebacker role close to the line of scrimmage lately, matched up against Howard. The Giants tried to do that Monday night against George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, but Kittle wound up with nine receptions in 10 targets. Per Pro Football Focus, though, Kittle was only targeted once while being covered by Collins — a play that resulted in an 18-yard gain.Bettcher insisted on Thursday that Collins vs. tight ends is a matchup that favors the Giants.“I love the matchup with him on great tight ends, I really do,” Bettcher said. “That’s one thing he’s built to do.”Taking advantage of Tampa Bay’s secondaryEarlier in the week Chris detailed the weakness of the Buccaneers’ secondary. Statistically, the Bucs are 29th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, 30th in yards allowed per pass attempt, 25th in yards allowed per completion, last in the league in opponents’ completion percentage, 28th in completions allowed per game and last in the league in opponents’ passer rating.With Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley the Giants should be able to take advantage of that Tampa Bay weakness. If they can protect Manning from JPP and Co.

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