Odell Beckham Jr.

USA TODAY Images

Palladino: Maybe Odell Beckham Jr. Has Finally Wised Up

Presence At OTAs Good Starting Point For Season

Ernie Palladino
May 21, 2018 - 10:24 am
Categories: 

Odell Beckham Jr. had better things to do last year when the Giants opened the organized-team-activities part of their offseason conditioning program.

Not this year. A calendar year older, hopefully a bit wiser and probably a little more cognizant that teams tend not to grant requests for record contracts to wideouts who missed 11 games with a busted ankle, the Giants’ main receiver showed up Monday for the first OTA.

While that may not prompt co-owner John Mara to come running to the practice field with the new riches his ethereal player seeks in hand, it’s at least a step in the right direction for Beckham.

His mere presence shows a willingness to work with the organization. And that’s a lot more important now than melding with a roster that now includes a stud running back in Saquon Barkley and a refurbished offensive line that should keep Eli Manning on his feet long enough to find Beckham for double-digit touchdowns. In fact, Beckham probably won’t even take part in drills, as he’s still rehabbing that left ankle.

MORE: Keidel: If Odell Beckham Jr. Quiets Down, Giants Should Pay Him

Still, the mere expectation of his presence, plus the fact that he has already shown up for voluntary workouts and the equally voluntary three-day minicamp that preceded the draft could herald a newfound maturity that hasn’t been seen before.

In fact, Beckham had become such a problem for management that general manager Dave Gettleman actually put his name out there as trade bait at the owners' meetings. Whether he really would have pulled the trigger on a reported asking price of two first-round picks is anybody’s guess. But that went out the window when Los Angeles traded with New England for Brandin Cooks.

Beckham obviously got the message, though, that not a nickel more than the $8.5 million he is currently set to make would find its way into his pockets if he didn’t change his ways.

Staying away from cellphone-toting models bearing mysterious substances in Paris hotel rooms might have served as a nice start. But that little Titanic sunk early in the offseason.

MORE: Settlement Reached In Giants, Manning Memorabilia Fraud Case

He could have made a better choice than to take batting practice with the Tampa Bay Rays before Friday’s game in Anaheim, even if he did display a pretty home run swing. It’s just not a preferable activity for one coming back from ankle surgery.

Attending Manning’s passing camp at Duke University might have been a better option, even if it meant a limited workload.

Still, those last two pale in comparison with last year’s offseason. He skipped two voluntary workouts to spend some quality training time with former NFL party boy Johnny Manziel, of all people. It’s significant that Manziel’s next move to resurrect a ruined career involves a stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

Beckham then skipped all the voluntary OTAs as then-coach Ben McAdoo scrambled to stop the precipitous fall the offense took from the previous season.

We all know how that turned out. Beckham hadn’t played well in the four games before the injury.

With new coach Pat Shurmur running the show, it seems Beckham has become more receptive to doing the offseason work of learning a new offense despite limited on-field participation.

Perhaps part of it is a desire to see the team rise from its 3-13 downfall of 2017.

Perhaps it’s a totally selfish move borne of a need to show he deserves the guaranteed $60 million a new contract could net him -- now.

Either way, Shurmur will be glad to have his centerpiece receiver around, and that’s a good thing.

It won't send Mara running with a new contract in hand. Nor should it.

But it’s a good starting point.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino