EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Odell Beckham Jr. said being named the league’s top rookie doesn’t dominate his thoughts.
But it’s not far away, either.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Beckham, the former Newman High School and LSU star said. “But right now, we’ve got two more games and whatever happens, happens. You can only control what you can control.
“If it were to happen, it would be quite an accomplishment,” he said. “But it’s not up to me, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Beckham is certainly a contender headed into his game at St. Louis on Sunday, based on his past 10 games. If he wins rookie of the year honors, he’d be the first Giant to win the award.
Beckham missed the first four games with a strained hamstring, then debuted Oct. 5 against Atlanta and has been a force since despite the Giants going 5-9. The first-round draft pick will probably pass 1,000 yards this weekend and is four catches away from Jeremy Shockey’s club reception record of 74 for rookies.
One more score will give him 10 touchdowns.
League-wide, his numbers are ahead of fellow rookie receivers Mike Evans of Tampa Bay (59 catches for 948 yards and 11 TDs) and Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin (67 catches for 952 yards and nine touchdowns).
His numbers also exceed Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins, Miami’s Jarvis Landry (also of LSU, and Philadelphia’s Jordan Matthews, all of whom have played full seasons.
One offensive rookie who could compete will stand on the opposite sideline as Beckham tries to put on his usual show. Rams running back Tre Mason has started the last six games and has 661 rushing yards on the season, tops among NFC rookies and second among rookies overall.
None, however, have been as dynamic as Beckham, who highlighted his season with a three-fingered touchdown catch in the Game 11 loss to Dallas.
“When I’m standing on the sidelines, I’m rooting for him all the way,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “When I get to Monday, sometimes I run it back an extra time.”
Even safety Antrel Rolle has marveled at how easily Beckham gets open against fast-learning, fast-adjusting defenses.
“The guy’s phenomenal,” Rolle said, adding that the addition of a healthy Victor Cruz to next year’s receiving corps could make Beckham that much more of a defensive headache. “The thing I most admire is that he doesn’t play like a rookie. He always gets open. He’s got a real good connection with Eli (Manning) and it’s getting even better.”
Beckham has had double-digit catches in three of the past four games, and 23 catches for 273 yards and four touchdowns in the last two against Tennessee and Washington. He said his numbers, which include five 100-yard receiving games, and records realized or pending, are simply a product of high personal expectations.
“Never would I have expected it to happen, but I always had it in the back of my mind,” Beckham said. “I set the bar as high as possible. But I didn’t even know I broke Shockey’s record until someone came and told me about it. To be in company with Shockey is great.”
He may soon have time to contemplate a piece of hardware for his mantel. But Beckham has other things on the front burner right now.
He’ll let the voters take care of the awards.
“That’s not up to me,” he said. “It’s in the back of my mind, but we’ve got two games left. I just want to finish strong.”