Odell Beckham Jr. has been cleared to play football.
Eight months after fracturing his ankle in a Week 5 game against the Chargers, the wide receiver had a physical at the start of this week’s mandatory minicamp and was declared good to go. No more limitations, no more working on the side with trainers.
But what should have been a joyous occasion for the Giants was instead tempered by a self-imposed limitation on Beckham’s participation. He took part in individual drills during Tuesday’s first workout of the three-day event, but when it came to drills when the offense faced the defense, Beckham stood off to the side.
He was with the team and he seemed to be going all-out when he was interacting with them, but he also made it abundantly clear that he probably won’t be giving the Giants the full Beckham until his contract issue is resolved. Beckham is entering the final year of his rookie contract and would like a long-term extension, the more zeroes and commas in it the better.
Beckham did not say so directly. He was not available to the media for the 251st straight day, dating to Oct. 4 and his weekly press conference before that fateful game against the Chargers. Instead his buddy and teammate Sterling Shepard basically said what everyone assumed.
“He doesn’t want to be away from the team and he wants everything to be worked out,” Shepard said. “But that’s the nature of the business. You have the business side of it. There are things that guys want to get taken care of before they step on the field. You can’t knock him for that.”
Beckham had been in and out of the team facility for most of the offseason program. He was with the Giants for some workouts in the early spring and attended one of three weeks of OTAs. Those were all voluntary. Had Beckham skipped this mandatory minicamp, he would have been fined.
So he showed up, following the letter of the law if not the full spirit of it.
The parts that Beckham did on the field on Tuesday did look strong. Shepard said Beckham asked him to watch when he ran his routes to make sure there were no issues with the ankle. “I swear I forget that he got hurt sometimes,” Shepard said. “He looks really good out there.”
Eli Manning, who had not thrown to Beckham during the previous portions of the offseason program in which Beckham was an attendee, said he was happy with the receiver’s physical status.
“Obviously he only ran four or five routes or so, but he looked good coming out of his breaks and from what I see he looks sharp and ready to go,” the quarterback said.
Even coach Pat Shurmur was impressed by the glimpses.
“He was cleared to train and he did a good job,” the head coach said. “Everybody is at different phases of their training and he was like a couple of other guys who didn’t do some things.”
He was, however, the only one whose boundaries seemed to be set by himself and not the medical staff.
“I don’t necessarily think it helps anybody to play the word game here,” Shurmur said when pressed on what it means to be cleared, what the Giants asked of Beckham during the practice, and what they want him to do for the next two workouts.
As far as the contract situation that will loom over everything Beckham does — and doesn’t do — until it is resolved, Shurmur said: “I’m not worried about it and neither is he.”
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I look at a player who loves football, he’s out there right now doing his thing, and he wants to be here,” Shurmur said. “What I’m concerned about as the coach is my relationship with him and him learning as much as he can through this offseason so that when we get going he’s ready to go. Our job as coaches is to get him trained up and put him on the field. That’s what we worry about. This isn’t the first time in the NFL we’ve talked about a player and a contract, so we just keep moving and keep developing our relationship within what’s going on and we move forward. That’s where it’s at.”