Evan Engram
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram reflects on the 2018 season, speaks on the trade of Odell Beckham Jr., and comes to Eli Manning’s side. 

The 2018 season was a bit flaky for New York Giants tight end Evan Engram. Having impressed as a rookie in 2017, Engram was in and out of the trainer’s room in 2018. He suffered knee and hamstring injuries throughout the season. These setbacks forced him to miss five games during the regular season.

Having played 15 games his rookie year, it was safe to say this past season was different for Engram. However, the former Ole Miss playmaker is taking in the positives from 2018.

“I definitely saw some adversity last year and had some bumps and bruises, but that’s part of the game,” Engram said on NFL Network this past week. “That last kind of half of the year when I got healthy and we started playing some winning football and took advantage of opportunities to make some plays. So I’m definitely excited about going into this year. I’m going to be taking care of my body a lot better and praying for more health and success and just having more fun this year.”

One aspect that’ll be new for Engram next season will be playing without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as a teammate. Beckham was traded in March to the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick (No. 17 overall), a third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers.

However, with Beckham gone, Engram now has the opportunity to be quarterback Eli Manning‘s No. 1 target. Along with playing on the line, Engram also has the ability to line up in the slot in certain formations.

Engram is looking at the loss of Beckham as a significant opportunity for the future.

“Odell missed a couple games last year, and it just presented a lot more opportunities to step up and make some plays,” Engram said. “Definitely our coaches put together a great game plan that kind of surrounded that, and we have so much talent on our team outside of Odell. We’ve got Sterling [Shepard] and Saquon [Barkley] and Eli [Manning] and the O-line that’s young and learning. I think it just presents itself as more opportunities and it all comes down to the work being put in, the belief we have in ourselves to step up in those moments.”

Beckham missed the Giants’ final four games of the regular season in 2018. He suffered a quadriceps injury in a Week 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In those four games without Beckham, Engram caught 22 balls for 320 yards and one score through the air. He had 23 receptions for 257 yards and two scores the rest of the year, which consisted of seven games for Engram in his injury-plagued season.

Engram also felt the need to speak on his quarterback.

The Giants decision to retain Manning for next season has garnered much criticism. Many believe he’s aging and that the organization needs to put a halt on the loyalty. However, head coach Pat Shurmur confirmed that Manning will be back for 2019. The Giants also paid Manning his $5 million roster bonus for 2019.

Despite the critics, Engram is sticking by his quarterback’s side.

“Eli still is going to be Eli,” Engram said. “We’ve got to be better as a team sometimes and we’ve got to play more complementary football, and when he’s protected and when we have a great game plan in, he can still make every throw. He can still drive the ball down the field, and he’s shown that. He’s shown that definitely the second half of last season. We started competing more often, started making more big plays and scoring a lot more points.”

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.