EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Follow the yells and shrieks from the fans at a New York Giants practice and it will almost always lead to Odell Beckham Jr. They want some kind of nod or recognition, which usually comes courtesy of a wave or head bob, from their favorite player.
Odell Beckham rarely flies under the radar, even on the field at a Giants practice. Teammates and coaches feel and hear his presence.
In between plays on Thursday, Beckham sauntered back to the sideline on more than a few occasions and stood alongside Sterling Shepard, talking with the third-year wide receiver. This is a regular occurrence at Giants training camp.
“Most of the time, it’s about technique or what I was thinking on some route or what he was thinking,” Shepard said. “Or whatever is coming up in the script and what we’re excited for. We’re always picking each other’s brain. I’m always picking his brain, for sure, trying to see what he is thinking or what he thought about whatever just happened or I just did.”
When Beckham is on the field at practice, he’s doing more than just making plays. He’s giving tips to the younger receivers, chatting up the officials, going over details with wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and even sharing a few laughs with head coach Pat Shurmur.
That is the one constant; Beckham always seems to be having fun. It’s a part of the reason he’s on the field this summer even as he looks for a new contract.
“He’s a different kind of guy,” a source said during the offseason. “He just loves football.”
Beckham attended a good chunk of the Giants’ offseason workout program. But he spent most of his time on the side, working with a trainer while he rehabbed the ankle he broke last October. He was at practice, he just wasn’t really practicing.
This summer, Beckham has been close to a full participant, sitting out only a few drills here and there (including one-on-ones vs. the cornerbacks) during the early part of training camp. It has injected a big ball of energy into Giants practices.
“I see what I expected to see when we started to communicate back in February,” Shurmur said earlier this week. “This guy loves to play football, he trains extremely hard, he’s totally engaged in the meetings behind the scenes, the things that the world is not aware of, and he’s got a lot of passion for the game. We were just out in a walk-through and I saw three or four times when he was talking to different players about certain techniques within the play. That’s all good stuff.”
Tolbert has known Beckham since he was born. He was a teammate of Beckham’s father at LSU and knew his mother when she was a track star for the Tigers.
Tolbert had met Beckham and talked with him a few times prior to Tolbert's arrival this offseason from the Denver Broncos. But this is his first opportunity to work with the enigmatic wide receiver. Tolbert is quickly finding out what Beckham is all about on the field and behind closed doors.
“The fact is that he is talking ball a lot,” Tolbert said. “Sometimes you think guys don’t like to talk ball when they are in there, but you see him going over stuff and talking ball with other guys. Talking about different plays, talking about different techniques. ‘How can you do this better, how can you do that better?’
“That’s what the great ones do. They sit back and not only do it on the field, but when they are off the field, they are looking at somebody else and seeing how they can do this better or that better. He talks ball a lot when he is not in there.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s with veteran quarterback Eli Manning when they stay after practice for extra work, or in a down moment with an undrafted receiver at the bottom of the roster. Beckham spends much of his time at the facility striving to be great. The belief is that anything and everything helps.
There were moments at Wednesday’s training camp practice when Beckham stopped to talk with undrafted receivers Jawill Davis and Alonzo Russell. He even spent time at that practice seemingly picking the brain of Michael Mestieri, an assistant to the defensive coaching staff.
“He’s great. He’s everything what I expected. He’s like a great mentor,” Davis said. “One of the best in the game, but he gives me all types of info and feedback for what can help me. What he’s seeing -- certain routes, how to get the DB off, how to get leverage. He’ll explain when he’s coming off the field what he should’ve done on the route so when I go out there, I can look for it.”
What there isn’t a lot of is trash talk. That’s not a regular part of the daily repertoire.
“If we chirp, it’ll be something fun, but other than that, we just leave that off the field,” cornerback Janoris Jenkins said.
On the practice field, the Beckham-cornerbacks relationship is hardly contentious. He’s not trying to embarrass his opponent. He’s intent on trying to make them better, and in turn, better himself.
They are competitors, but still teammates. They’re trying to serve as assets to one another.
“He’s probably the best teammate I’ve been around as far as getting good feedback,” cornerback Eli Apple said. “After the play, we always talk about our techniques and what we did on this play to change things up and keep each other on our toes. So it’s good feedback all the time.”
And good to have every day at Giants practice.