Eli Manning on Josh Norman/Odell Beckham: We can’t let it escalate
The last time that cornerback Josh Norman was across the field from the Giants offense, his matchup with wide receiver Odell Beckham descended into ugliness that helped fuel a rule change this offseason calling for a player to be ejected if he’s flagged for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Beckham was suspended after last season’s game for taking a dirty shot at Norman’s head and the two players are scheduled to face off twice in 2016 now that Norman has signed with the Redskins. That’s sure to be a big talking point leading up to the September 25 matchup between the two teams, but quarterback Eli Manning said Sunday that the Giants will be doing their best to keep the focus on the game itself.
“It’s not going to be a battle between Odell and Josh,” Manning said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “We’re not going to make that a point. It’s about winning the football game, doing our job and doing it well. We’ll game-plan for him just like all the other corners, but we have to be sure not to make it a bigger deal so it doesn’t escalate into something that’s not about football.”
Manning and the Giants downplayed the Norman-Beckham angle heading into last year’s meeting with the Panthers as well and the two men have slapped at each other on social media this offseason, so it remains to be seen how things will play out on the field. Manning said he thinks the wideout “understands you can’t” make it about the individual battle, but last year’s behavior all but guarantees Norman and others will be pushing Beckham’s buttons to see if they can take him out of the game.