It’s still a stretch to say with certainty that Odell Beckham Jr. will play Sunday night against the Cowboys, but the Giants wide receiver’s ability to go through light warmups with his teammates before practice Wednesday generated optimism.
From his teammates and himself.
“I wouldn’t count it out,” Beckham said of his availability, which is in question because of a sprained ankle suffered 2 1⁄2 weeks ago. He said several times that he is “itching” to get back on the field during his first interviews since the Aug. 21 injury in Cleveland.
Wednesday was the closest he has come to being back. Beckham took part in most of the stretching, skipping, jumping, jogging, and high-stepping that takes place before the workout. He did not have a brace or wrap on his injured left ankle and did not appear to have a significant limp.
“He’s getting all the work in that he can get and we’ll see how he progresses,” Ben McAdoo said.
What Beckham did not do is practice. When the team ended its calisthenics and began to participate in drills, Beckham trotted to the side and continued to work with trainers.
Still, it was progress. McAdoo said Beckham’s availability will be a medical decision. That process could go right up to 7 p.m. Sunday, when the team has to submit its list of inactive players.
“If he’s cleared medically to play in the game, we’ll play him,” McAdoo said. “If he’s not, we won’t.”
Beckham said getting cleared is “something you feel. It’s just a day-to-day thing, trying to get better each and every day, rehabbing an endless amount of hours, treatment, et cetera. Just trying to get it right.”
Waiting for the doctors to clear him will be difficult because he wants to play so badly. “My heart, it’s just not going to make this easy,” Beckham said.
While he has yet to do so in front of reporters, Beckham said he has been running at full speed and cutting. Up until Wednesday, though, all of that work took place away from the team. This was his first time working with the group, even if it was just for a stretch.
Beckham first was seen doing football-related movements last Thursday before the preseason finale at New England. On Monday, he rode a stationary bicycle while the team stretched, then went into the fieldhouse to continue his rehab work alone.
While Giants teammates are still in the dark regarding Beckham’s game availability, Wednesday gave them hope.
“He’s a big part of this offense,” fellow receiver Sterling Shepard said. “If he’s out there, that’s great, it’s going to help a lot of people out. But if he’s not, we have to be prepared.”
Added guard Justin Pugh: “To have one of the best players in the NFL suiting up, it’d definitely be a plus.”
Beckham has not missed a game due to injury since he was sidelined for the first four in 2014, his rookie season, with a hamstring. He missed a game in 2015 because of a suspension.
He would not like to miss another. Certainly not against the Cowboys.
“This is what you love to do,” Beckham said. “Nobody ever wants to have that taken away from them, especially with the amount of work we have been putting in, the chemistry. We were just rolling. We were in a good place. But that’s life. You get setbacks, and it’s how you come back from that and handle adversity.
“This is another thing I want to overcome.”