Odell Beckham Jr. has a penchant for popping up in the darndest places, and it can be hard to keep track of him and his globe-trotting lifestyle. But of all the strange and eccentric places for Beckham be spotted, for many, this one may seem to be the least likely.
Beckham is with the Giants, participating as much as he is allowed to in this week’s voluntary veteran minicamp that began on Tuesday. He wasn’t traded. He isn’t holding out. He’s not even rehabbing in some glamorous city where he can train during the day and party at night.
After weeks of speculation over what Beckham wants, what the Giants might do, and what their future together holds, Beckham’s presence makes it clear that his intention is to be a member of the organization. Now and probably for the long-term. Showing up at a voluntary minicamp goes a long way toward showing respect to a new coaching staff, assuaging maturity fears from the front office, and extending what may be seen as a peace offering in what is still the early stages of a long-term contract negotiation.
It’s such a gesture that head coach Pat Shurmur, who last spoke about a month ago only vaguely about Beckham’s place on the team in 2018, offered the most concrete assurances of the wide receiver’s status this offseason.
“Absolutely,” Shurmur said on Tuesday when asked if Beckham will be a Giant in the fall. “He’s an excellent player. He’s a part of our team and a very valued member of our team.”
Beckham didn’t just show up, either. He’s been with the team in some capacity since the start of the offseason training program two weeks ago. And after a season in which he spent a good deal of time away from the players and the locker room rehabbing from ankle surgery, the Giants definitely sense a difference from his presence.
“Man, you can tell the difference around the facility whenever that guy is in the building,” fellow wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “You get a happy feeling. He’s always making people laugh everywhere he goes, so it’s good to have him in the building.”
On the field for practice will have to wait. While Beckham and others have posted training videos of him running routes, catching passes, and even pulling an SUV, the Giants want to be super cautious with his return. He participated in Tuesday morning’s walk-through, but only stretched with the team prior to the full practice before working with trainers on an adjacent field. He’s expected to adhere to that schedule during the three-day camp.
“I think the training room is saving him from himself right now,” Shepard said. “They’re kind of holding him back.”
Shepard said he has spent some time working with Beckham this offseason away from the team.
“To be honest, I forget that he got hurt sometimes,” Shepard said.
Perhaps the clearest sign that Beckham wants to be a Giant is his burgeoning relationship with Shurmur. He’s played for two previous head coaches in his time with the Giants, and each at times seemed to tip-toe around the star player. Shurmur has struck up a man-to-man connection.
“We constantly communicate,” Shurmur said. “We had a great talk [Monday], he came in and we sat down as we were getting ready for this minicamp so we could talk about what we’re trying to get accomplished. We’ve spoken on the phone, we text. We’re very honest and open with one another and we communicate frequently.”
“It’s like any relationship,” Shurmur said.
Most significantly, it’s not a long-distance one.