Two weeks ago, Pat Shurmur said it was his “understanding” that Odell Beckham Jr. would be present for the start of the Giants’ offseason training program. Despite a deafening cacophony of speculation to the contrary in the time since — along with possible theories for his absence, including a preamble to a holdout or his being traded to another team — the understanding remains the same.
Beckham told ESPN on Sunday that he will be in attendance in New Jersey on Monday to “check in, work out in the gym and meet with some people.” NFL Network also reported that Beckham will be with the team on Monday as the 2018 Giants assemble for the first time.
The offseason training program is voluntary, but Beckham’s presence or absence certainly is noteworthy. He is the team’s highest-profile player, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is coming off a season that ended early with ankle surgery. Those elements add up to a media maelstrom no matter what happens.
Certainly Beckham’s presence will quiet the reports of a fractured relationship between him and the organization to some degree, but it hardly will squash them entirely. In fact, even if Beckham shows up for the start of the offseason program, it will not be an indication that all is right between the two sides.
There is no indication of how long he will stick around, what condition his ankle is in to participate in the drills that will unfold in the coming weeks, or even if he will be on the field when the regular season starts in September.
But it’s a start.
It’s a start for the rest of the Giants, too. After 2 1⁄2 months as coach, Shurmur finally will have a chance to address the team and his mostly new coaching staff in its entirety. They can start installing the new offensive and defensive schemes. After weeks of awkward phone calls and silent knowing nods in the facility, they can talk football.
“I think it’s important,’’ Shurmur said of the offseason program at the NFL meetings in late March. “When you build a chemistry, you can’t develop those relationships unless you’re working together. That’s why it’s super-important you have a high attendance rate at the offseason. I know there’s a resistance sometimes, but players need to be there, especially when you’re adding new players and there’s new schemes. It’s really the best thing for them.”
Having Beckham show up and be a part of that is the best thing for him and the Giants, too. He has been training and rehabbing in Los Angeles, and has been keeping the Giants’ medical staff up to date on his progress via videos. The most worrisome fracture remains that of Beckham’s ankle and not one between the player and the team. But after the perceived tumult of these past few weeks, a signal of solidarity — even if it is just for one day — can go a long way.