EAST RUTHERFORD Mathew Barzal Jersey , 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 Authentic Khalil Mack Jersey , 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, so it’s all good.”
Beckham actually developed a friendship working out with Ramsey in the offseason Youth Sebastian Aho Jersey , 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.
Jalen Ramsey has approached trash talking 鈥?both dishing it out and receiving it 鈥?with open arms for most of his football career.
When initiating it he's been an equal opportunity offender, even when his words were aimed at possibly two of the best players to ever play their respective positions.
Ramsey sent ripples across the league last month when he was asked by "ESPN The Magazine" for his opinion of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and said: "I don't think Gronk is as great as people think he is."
The comments came months after the Jaguars' 24-20 loss to the Patriots in last season's AFC championship game, in which Gronkowski caught only one pass before being knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first half.
That same game also saw Ramsey briefly exchange words with reigning MVP Tom Brady during pregame warmups.
It's all added extra fuel to the budding rivalry as New England prepares to visit Jacksonville on Sunday.
"If that's how he feels, that's how he feels," Gronkowski said Wednesday. "It's a big game. ... I'm sure I'm gonna have opportunities go against him. And I'm sure he's gonna have opportunities to go against me."
For his part, Ramsey has never backed down from his comments.
"I don't live my life with regrets Womens Tom Pyatt Jersey , man. Things happen. I said what I said," Ramsey said after his comments went viral.
"I love the competitiveness. I love the trash talking. I love the challenge. I love literally everything about the game, so I have no regrets. ... Hey, I'm me: Unapologetic."
Ramsey's teammates said his often-biting words are what make Ramsey the player he is.
Trash talking is, "part of his game," defensive lineman Calais Campbell said.
"I tell him all the time 'Man, hey, whatever you do just make sure that we're gonna back you up...We're gonna be there for you,'" Campbell said. "But I have nothing but confidence in Jalen. He's a very smart guy ... Very passionate. So I won't ever try to contain somebody and not let him be himself."
Ramsey was a first-team All-Pro in his second year in the league last season, but had a relatively quiet AFC title game against New England. He finished with just two tackles as Brady engineered late-game heroics to erase a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Ramsey said recently that he thinks the biggest reason for the Jaguars losing that game was that they became too conservative.
Of the talent of Brady, who exploited that conservatism Yannick Ngakoue Jersey , Ramsey told "GQ" magazine that he puts him in the category of quarterbacks who don't "suck."
"I never want to suck," Brady said with a smile Wednesday. "So I never want to be in that category."
Brady is expecting "an emotional environment" on Sunday against a defense that he considers one of the best in the AFC. He added that he thinks Ramsey is "a great young player." Brady said a little trash talk is part of the game.
"I think it raises everybody's game, as long as it doesn't get to point where you do something stupid," Brady said. "I think emotion in football is critical."
Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said that any conversations he's had with Ramsey about his tendency to speak his mind would remain private.
But Marrone was also quick to offer praise for both Gronkowski and Brady, whom he said were possibly the best to play the game at their positions.
He said he isn't concerned about Ramsey's comments providing the Patriots bulletin board material.
"I mean, it is what it is," Marrone said. "We're all men and we've got to stand by what we say and you've got to speak for yourself and be able to do that. We've just got to go out there and play."
Said Gronkowski: "I feel like this game you gotta keep your head on a swivel and be ready for anything."
Notes: Rookie RB Sony Michel spoke to reporters for the first time since injuring his knee during training camp. He was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and said he was "doing all I can do" to be back in uniform for Sunday's game. "My mindset is to prepare as if I'm playing," he said. Michel, who was taken 31st overall in April's draft, is one of two Patriot first-round picks on the mend. Tackle Isaiah Wynn (selected 23rd overall) was lost for the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the preseason. RB Rex Burkhead remains in the concussion protocol after taking a blow to the head in last week's opener.
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