Let’s be honest: A Giants offseason training program without Odell Beckham Jr. in attendance is not exactly new. The wide receiver would generally make cameos at the facility while training on his own in California or elsewhere around this time of year.
But on Monday, when the Giants officially began their march toward the 2019 season, it was the first team gathering since the trade that sent Beckham to the Browns a little over a month ago. For that matter, it was the first time the Giants assembled without safety Landon Collins, too. Two players who until recently seemed like mainstays and cornerstones for the team’s foreseeable future were, suddenly and concretely, not.
“Yeah, it is a little different not having Odell sitting next to me and having different guys in the meeting room,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said, “but we all know that’s just the way this goes.”
There are only two players on the Giants who were on the roster before Beckham and Collins arrived. On Monday, the whole team was there for the first meetings since they departed.
Not that the Giants made a big fuss over it. Pat Shurmur said he spoke to the team about the possibility of roster changes at the end of the 2018 season (as just about every coach does every season). When they returned on Monday, Shurmur was more focused on current Giants, not former ones.
“I think the important thing was bringing the group that we have here together,” Pat Shurmur said. “As we move forward, I think it is important that we move forward with the group we have.”
Certainly everyone was aware of the changes and their implications. Eli Manning, who said he learned about the Beckham trade like just about everyone else – while watching the news crawl across the bottom of his television screen – said he reached out to Beckham shortly after.
“Odell has been a teammate for five years and has been a friend,” Manning said. “It’s more than just a player. It is someone you have a relationship with. You think more about that person, how they are handling it and that they are OK and doing well with it.”
“I was a little shocked at first, like everyone was I think,” Shepard said of first hearing about the trade. “But you sit back and you look at it, it’s kind of the nature of the business. That was a point for me to really sit back and realize that this is a business, and that’s just how things go sometimes.”
With the Giants’ first post-Beckham and post-Collins step taken on Monday, Shurmur said he likes the look of the team he has assembled. There is some work to do still. The NFL Draft is next week, and Shurmur said he expects to get two or three defensive starters from that process. There may be more even changes to come if the Giants decide to use current players as assets to acquire a quarterback who is already in the league such as Josh Rosen or (gasp!) Russell Wilson if they are available.
For now, though, the process of coming together as the 2019 Giants has begun. A team that was defined during the offseason frenzy by the players who left must now try to redefine itself with the players who remain.
“You’ve got new faces, but you get new faces every year, and around this time, it’s a little different,” Shepard said. “This is the team that we have for this year, and make it the best. Guys are just trying to get familiar with each other.”