EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz believe Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs were "gunning" for Beckham in Saturday night's preseason game, and neither thinks Beckham has seen the last of that sort of on-field activity.
"This year, that's just what the case is going to be," Beckham said of being targeted while speaking to ESPN Radio's The Michael Kay Show on Tuesday afternoon. "So, protect yourself. I know that, by the time the season comes, on those plays I'm going to have to sit there and take the hit, because I want to catch the ball and I want [quarterback] Eli [Manning] to keep throwing those balls and him giving me opportunities."
"I was a little unhappy last week because I felt some of those DBs were gunning for him," Cruz said before Giants practice Tuesday after being held from the game. "It was sad to see that go down because I felt like I couldn't help him. Couldn't go out there on the field and run routes with him, take some of the pressure off him, things like that."
Beckham was thrown at five times in Saturday's game and didn't catch a pass. On a couple of his routes, he clearly pulled up short of the ball because he saw a safety coming hard after him.
"Even towards the back end of the season, I know there were plays just like in this preseason that guys have an opportunity to make a play on the ball and they're not making a play on the ball," Beckham said. "Instead they're going towards me. I know it's part of the game and I'm not going to be the one to sit there and complain about it. But it's just like, man to man, if you have a chance to make a play, make a play. Don't make the play on me or try to blow me up."
Cruz, who's being held out of preseason games because of last season's right knee injury and this summer's left calf injury, said he saw the same thing.
"When guys have an opportunity to get an interception and they don't even go for the ball, that's what you don't want to see," Cruz said. "From the sideline you could see it. When you're running a vertical route and you take a peek at the safety and see him, head down, trying to spear you. You can see that from a mile away."
Beckham had several testy exchanges with Jacksonville defenders during the game. At one point, he shoved safety Sergio Brown out of bounds after a play, clearly frustrated with the treatment he was getting from the defense.
Brown, however, denied targeting Beckham.
"No. That's just football. It's a preseason game," Brown said. "That's how you play football in the NFL. It's not practice. It's live, so if they throw the ball up, you've got to be prepared to catch it or protect yourself. No gunning."
Jaguars cornerback Davon House also denied Cruz's accusation and said Beckham just had a tough night.
"I don't know if he was frustrated from what Sergio did or what he thinks Sergio might have done, or if he was just frustrated because he wasn't getting enough balls," House said. "I don't know. It's a better question for Odell to answer and their offense."
Regardless, Cruz knows that teams will continue to give Beckham their best shot.
"I dealt with that a little bit, as well," Cruz said. "It's just something he has to deal with and battle through. He's a smart kid and he knows that. You've got to expect it every game."
Beckham has spoken several times this offseason about his need to control his temper and emotions during games when opponents are trying to needle or attack him.
"I talked a lot last year about just having mental strength and being able to control your emotions," Beckham said in an interview with ESPN earlier this summer. "I feel like I've been a lot better about it, maybe because we haven't been in a game or playing against another team. I don't know. I just genuinely love playing football, have such a passion for it, that it's hard sometimes not to be frustrated with something not going right. But it comes with the game, and you just take it and learn from it."
Information from ESPN.com's Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco contributed to this report.