New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. talks to...

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. talks to cornerback Prince Amukamara during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J. on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Credit: Brad Penner

At some point in the past week, Odell Beckham Jr. likely thought: So this is what training camp is like?

The offensive rookie of the year missed almost all of camp last summer, when he was sidelined because of hamstring troubles. He was unable to complete a full day of practicing until late in September, with the regular season already underway.

This year he's been the complete opposite, on the field for every workout despite something of a pitch count when it comes to reps and the idea that the Giants still are managing his health.

"It's a lot more fun to be out there than when you watch, I can tell you that, that's for sure," Beckham said. "It's been cool just being able to go through practices and start to recover, and you feel what it feels like to go through these practices. Just being able to get back out there each and every day and take something new from every day, learn from it -- it's been fun."

The real fun will start in September when these practices pay off. Last season, Beckham lit up the league without any chance to refine his craft, work on timing with Eli Manning or get to test-drive the playbook. So what will he be capable of in 2015?

"I don't know. I guess only time can tell, really," he said. "I know that practice will make it easier, but at the end of the day, it's football. It's what you've been doing for a long time. As long as you're on the same page with Eli, whether it's mentally or physically, I think it will be fine."

There also has been an adjustment to his fame. A year ago, fans sometimes heckled him for not practicing. This year they can't get enough of him, oohing at his one-handed catching exercises on the side, gasping when he uses a double- or triple-move against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a one-on-one drill, and cheering every time the football comes near him.

That kind of positivity comes with a price, though. On the first day of camp, Beckham was signing autographs for fans when the bleachers they were standing on buckled. No one was hurt, but Beckham was shaken.

"It was just kind of weird," he said of the incident. "I'm signing a football, and I see the stands collapse and I see legs in between the bleachers and stuff like that. It's just crazy. I don't like to see anybody, any kids or anything like that, in harm's way. Hopefully, there's not another incident like that or getting put in those situations again."

Beckham said he never thought he'd have to worry about such things when he was drafted by the Giants just over a year ago.

"It's something that I kind of just take in day-by-day," he said of handling his ever-growing popularity. "I always thought you're in the NFL, like, you're a football player. You play in the NFL. But I never thought there was so much more to it than what there is. But it's definitely not a bad thing, so to say. It's just you live and you learn. You've just got to find the right way to do things."

Someone who has gone through that transformation is Victor Cruz, and Beckham said he relies a lot on him for support and guidance in such situations.

"I always clown with him just about how crazy things can get sometimes or how crazy it may feel for you sometimes," Beckham said. "I just think about him and he's been there. So if I ever need to ask someone for any kind of advice, I can just go to him."

On the football field, Beckham said he still thinks about his hamstrings, which kept him out of most of the spring workouts.

"Hamstrings are always going to be on your mind," he said. "You can ask anybody who ran track, anybody who has ever pulled a muscle, it's always going to be something in the back of your mind, no matter if you try and let it go or not."

But this year his main focus is on the playbook. There are a lot more 13s in it than last year's version. That's good. But there also are a lot more distractions as well. Which is why Beckham said he's concentrating on something other than his catching and route-running this camp.

"Staying patient, staying patient and just really weathering the storm," he said when asked what he is working on the hardest. "Not allowing anything else to affect what you came here to do."

And what is it that he is trying to stay patient against?


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