ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Odell Beckham Jr. is not in a rush to do either of the two things that the rest of the world is frantically waiting for from him. Those would be playing in an actual game and signing a long-term contract extension.
Ask Beckham “When?” regarding either topic and he answers with Zen.
He seems fulfilled to be doing exactly what he has been doing since training camp began. Coming off two days of intense joint practices with the Lions (the teams held a walk-through Thursday, the third day of the gathering), Beckham seemed pleased with his physical progress. He put on a dazzling display and looked every bit the player he was before the injury that ended his 2017 season.
So, when will we see him in a game?
“It’s just about timing,” he said of his return from ankle surgery. “Whenever it’s time to go, it will be time to go. I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling fast. It’s starting to come back to me. I’m just very thankful to be where I’m at right now.”
And when will he get that contract done?
“Let them figure it out,” he said of his agent and the team’s front office, insisting that he remains blissfully removed from the process. “I believe that it’s gonna work itself out. It’s a matter of time, just like anything in life. It’s timing.”
Those two issues came together this week when Beckham took part in virtually all of the drills against the Lions, including one-on-ones and team plays. It was a risk for him, of course. He’s one wrong twist of his ankle away from having the entire rosy future ahead of him collapse, and there are plenty of people who believe he should be safely bubble-wrapped in a hold-out holding pattern until the mega-contract is finalized.
After missing most of last season, Beckham insisted that he take part in these last few practices.
“I just need it,” he said. “You know, season’s coming up. You need that work. I can’t really shy away from it right now… Any chance I get to go out on the field and practice my craft, I’m going as hard as I can.”
Beckham may not play in Friday’s preseason game against the Lions. Pat Shurmur said he has a plan for handling the wide receiver, and while he did not divulge it, he held him out of action last week against the Browns.
In a way, Beckham probably got more from the Lions practices than he would from playing in the Lions game.
“There were some periods when I was going eight plays in a row or something like that,” he said. “You kind of build up that wind again. Even in practice [with just the Giants] I’ve been getting pushed a lot, asking for reps just because I need it. I need to feel eight to 10 plays, maybe 15 plays. Just kind of get that back.”
The practices are non-tackling and somewhat controlled arenas. Games are not.
“I can go in preseason, get hit a million times, and go in a game and get hit once [and get hurt],” he said. “I can go in the preseason, get hit once, and you never know. Every play in football is a dangerous play. I feel very confident in myself, and like I said, I’ve been playing football all my life, so it’s always going to be football to me.”
That, ultimately, is what Beckham is waiting for. Football. It’s the only “when” he cares about, and he got a little closer to it this week against the Lions.
“Right now I’m just trying to get back to the best that I can possibly be,” he said. “So to go out there and be able to work some of the techniques, work some of the things you’ve been working on and go against somebody else, it was a good confidence builder. I’ve been doing it in practice, but you put the pads on, you go against somebody else, it was a lot of fun. It was much needed.
“I feel,” he added, “like I’m back in love with what I always loved.”