What likely was Odell Beckham Jr.’s final day at the Giants’ facility as an underpaid player was spent preparing for the upcoming season.
Beckham did not participate in any team drills on the third and final day of this mandatory minicamp, an event that caps the offseason training program and ushers in a long break before the start of training camp.
But during the final period of Thursday’s workout, while the rest of the squad was going through special teams drills, he was spending time with the quarterbacks and Eli Manning in particular on a side field. Beckham ran routes, took coaching from Manning, then ran the routes again. While other quarterbacks threw to Giants staffers, Manning was the only one to throw to Beckham. At one point Manning even pulled Beckham aside, explained the subtleties of how he wanted a particular double route to be run with hand gestures and hip turns, then ran the play again.
It was a reprise of the one-on-one time the two spent together on Wednesday during those special teams drills, and followed up on some route-running the two took part in after practice on Wednesday.
It’s the kind of work a player puts in when he knows he’ll be back soon.
“Any time you catch a route from a quarterback you learn something about one another,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said of the interactions this week between the two most important players on his offense and likely his team. “They’ve spent time together. I’ve noticed that their relationship is real strong. And that’s typical of what players do. They work together.”
When they’ll do that next is anyone’s guess. Beckham would like a new, long-term contract, one that likely will make him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL and certainly one of the highest-paid receivers. The veterans open training camp on July 25. That gives the two sides nearly six weeks to avoid what could be a standoff.
At the very least, it seems unlikely Beckham will be a full participant in practices without a new deal in place. After an ankle injury that sidelined him last year, it would be ridiculous for him to risk a career-altering injury in the summer, especially when he is due to earn $8.5 million in 2018 and on the verge of cashing in for 10 times that amount.
Shurmur said he has not had any conversations with Beckham about his attendance at training camp. “I expect to see everybody here,” he said broadly.
When Beckham does report, Shurmur said he has “no reason to believe” there will be any physical limitations regarding his ankle.
Beckham was cleared to practice this week, although he did not do so beyond drills without any defenders.
“Odell has been able to do a lot here full speed,” Shurmur said. “This guy loves to play football and he gets it as well. When I see him in the meetings, when I see him on the field, regardless of what he’s doing, he’s really engaged. You can see just by him running routes versus air in some of the drills that he can really help us.”
When they get to see it against something other than air may take six weeks — or more — to determine.
Harrison, Hernandez scuffle. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison and rookie guard Will Hernandez were involved in a fight that could have turned disastrous for the Giants after Harrison ripped Hernandez’s helmet off and swung it at him. The swing missed Hernandez, who managed to take a few swings of his fists at Harrison before they were separated. “There are certain things we certainly can’t do,” Shurmur said. “We have to settle down and in a situation where a scuffle breaks like that you just take them out of practice and cool them off.”
Notes & quotes. Tackle Nate Solder appeared to hurt his ankle a bit in the fracas. “I think he’s fine,” Shurmur said . . . The Giants will have their rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans report to training camp on July 22 for two days of work before the rest of the team reports on July 25. Shurmur said those workouts can be productive, particularly for the younger players who may not be able to get as many reps in a full-team setting.