Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis identified one key for the New York Giants in their Wild Card Round game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. must control his emotions.
On Sunday, Davis spoke about the talented but fiery wideout on NFL GameDay Morning (h/t Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media):
We all can agree that Odell is a great player. When you think about Odell and what he's able to do on the football field, it's truly special. But it's very important for him this weekend to make sure that he controls his emotions. Whenever he goes out and he plays and he controls his emotions, he's huge for that team.
But when he goes out and he allows his emotions to get the best of him, he's a cancer for that football team and you can see it. It's evident. When we played him, you could see him and Josh [Norman] going back and forth, you can see that the whole team was getting caught up in that and they weren't focused in the first half. That's why we were able to jump out to a big lead. They kind of settled down later in the second half of the football game and they were able to come back. It was just really evident that they were not a focused bunch when he was doing all of that.
The game Davis referenced was a December 2015 matchup between the Giants and Panthers, which pitted Beckham against Norman. Beckham was penalized three times and regularly got into pushing and shoving matches with Norman after the whistle. It took Beckham out of the game through much of the first three quarters, though he eventually caught the game-tying touchdown pass before Carolina kicked a last-second field goal to win 38-35.
Beckham's emotions have gotten the best of him at times. There was his now infamous run-in with a kicking net early this season. Barely a week later, he told ESPN's Anita Marks he wasn't "having fun anymore" following a Monday Night Football loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
"People are looking for him," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "He's got to play smart, and he can't afford to do anything there. They're going to call him. He's brought that on himself, and he's got to realize that."
When Beckham is focused, there are few better weapons in football. He caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016 for his third straight season with at least 90 receptions, 1,300 yards and 10 scores.
Beckham has also become known for his acrobatic catches and incredible explosiveness. There is an argument to be made that he is the best wide receiver in football, though Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and A.J. Green might have a few things to say about that.
But the LSU product can be derailed by his antics, a fact that won't be lost on Green Bay's secondary. The Packers will surely try to get into Beckham's head, much as Norman did. If they succeed, the Giants may have a short postseason.
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