New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – We don’t get to watch much of New York Giants practice on a daily basis, but we’re out there for warmups and the first 20 minutes or so, and it’s usually enough time to see rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. do something cool.

Wednesday in practice, Beckham caught a punt with his left hand, kept the ball in that hand while catching another punt with his right. Then he threw one ball to a teammate with his right hand and one to another teammate with his left. A few minutes later, after the team broke for individual drills, someone threw Beckham a pass and he caught it between his legs.

Those of us watching from the sideline were dazzled. Beckham smiled and shrugged.

Odell Beckham Jr. has been a bright spot for the New York Giants offense. Al Bello/Getty Images

“I always thought it was important to be able to throw with both hands, so I taught myself how to throw left-handed,” Beckham said. “That’s just something I can do.”

A video of Beckham warming up with one-handed catches before the “Monday Night Football” game two weeks ago against the Indianapolis Colts got a fair bit of attention, but a Google search for “Odell Beckham one-handed” turns up a wide range of video options. There’s the one-handed catch against Iowa in the Outback Bowl, the one-handed kickoff catch against UAB … lots from which to choose if you’re after Beckham highlights. These are not coincidence. The warmup before the Colts game was a standard routine, born in his college days at LSU when he and teammate Jarvis Landry (now a rookie wide receiver with the Miami Dolphins) would have one-handed catch contests.

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“Catching the ball with one hand is something you just have to practice, because the opportunity sometimes presents itself and you want to be prepared,” Beckham said. “Jarvis Landry and I would do that every day in practice. We would see who could make the most ridiculous catch. He has some of the best hands I’ve been around, hands down.”

Landry’s hands measured at 10-1/4 inches at this year’s scouting combine, a quarter-inch bigger than Beckham’s. Eagles rookie Jordan Matthews, at 10-3/4, had the largest hand measurement among wide receivers at this year’s combine, and quarterback Logan Thomas, now with Arizona, had the largest hands of anyone at 10-7/8. But Beckham said the hand measurement at the combine is horizontal, and when he held his up to those of Thomas and Landry, his were longer top to bottom. He wears a 3XL size glove, though he says, “I can squeeze into a 2XL because my hands are so skinny.”

Beckham can juggle, though he says running back Andre Williams is the more skilled juggler among the Giants rookies. He says he can throw a 40-yard spiral with his left hand, though his right is still stronger and he claims to be able to throw a ball 70 yards with that one. When he’s practicing one-handed catches, he says the hardest are the ones he tries to catch with his hand over the ball, as though he’s plucking it out of the air from above.

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His hands are the only part of either of his arms that is not tattooed. Beckham has a variety of interesting ink – a Bourbon Street sign, the word “FAME,” a long inspirational quote – running from his shoulders down to his wrists, but his 3XL hands are free of any markings. Those hands have helped him haul in 15 catches for 264 yards in the Giants’ last two games, as the 22-year-old rookie first-round pick has emerged as a bright spot during a difficult season for the team. After missing all of training camp and the first four games of the year due to hamstring problems, Beckham has rebounded and outperformed most people’s expectations, if not his own.

“I expect so much out of myself that I don’t know when I’ll be able to surprise myself,” Beckham said. “Any ball that’s thrown, I expect to catch it. The interception [Sunday]? I put that on me.”

That may be a bit much, but it shows that Beckham believes there’s more to come. And in the middle of another disappointing Giants season, that’s a fun concept for fans to contemplate.

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