FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Perhaps the most significant action for the Giants in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Patriots took place about 2 1⁄2 hours before kickoff.
That’s when Odell Beckham Jr., sidelined and mostly out of sight since suffering a sprained ankle Aug. 21, made his way onto the field to go through a 25-minute workout. While he hardly did anything to break a sweat, walking through his drills and even lounging on the ground to catch passes, it was the first time Beckham has been seen publicly doing anything football- related since the injury.
With 10 days until the opener against the Cowboys, any glimpse of Beckham moving is a good thing. He may have been in slo-mo Thursday night, but his rehab will have to kick it into high gear in the next week if he is to be ready for Sept. 10.
“He’s in treatment and doing his workouts,” Ben McAdoo said after the Giants’ 40-38 win. “We’ll see how he responds in the morning.”
Shortly after the team arrived at Gillette Stadium, Beckham emerged from the locker room. He began with some light stretching, taking strides forward and backward with his legs wide apart. He continued on to taking side-to-side steps while catching passes. Next was a series of one-legged catches as he balanced on each leg for several passes before switching to the other.
Beckham then started to walk through routes, catching the ball in front of him, all while walking, never running. The only time he seemed to extend himself beyond the gait of a casual stroll was when one of those passes was a few feet ahead of him. He lunged for it.
Beckham also caught passes from a seated position on the turf, as well as some while lying down, as he customarily does during his pregame warmups.
At one point during Beckham’s work, Eli Manning took the field for his own warmup. Manning gave Beckham a pat on the back and even helped out with a few drills, waving his arms in front of Beckham to provide the semblance of defensive distraction while Beckham made his catches.
While his routine lacked the acrobatics and showmanship that his pregame warmups usually provide, just seeing him on a field catching passes seemed to be heartening to those Giants who witnessed it. He got a hug — perhaps a welcome-back embrace — from tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride as he left the field.
It was not a surprise to see Beckham on the field. On Wednesday, the day the Giants traveled to New England, he appeared in a video posted by linebacker J.T. Thomas on social media and was seen dancing in the locker room. That short clip was parsed by many for any indications of Beckham’s status, which McAdoo has not been forthcoming in providing. Much like his time on the field Thursday night, Beckham seemed to be moving well and did not have any type of wrap or brace on his left ankle.
Beckham stood with his teammates during the game, kibitzing with Manning and Landon Collins and mingling with other teammates. There were plenty to choose from. The Giants played only one projected starter, letting second-year safety Darian Thompson get snaps after missing most of last season with a foot injury.
Last year, McAdoo’s first as head coach, he rested Manning and a few defensive starters in this game. The new rule that allows teams to carry 90 players through the fourth preseason game allowed McAdoo to rest the bulk of the squad that will line up against Dallas.
Including, perhaps, Beckham.
Once he was done with his pregame performance, Beckham signed a few autographs on his way off the field. At that point, many of his teammates were coming out onto the field to prepare for the game.
Beckham returned to the locker room. His preparation was for the next game. He left the postgame locker room without stopping to talk to reporters.