EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — After a miserable end to the 2016 season and the brouhaha about his desire to be the NFL’s highest-paid player, Odell Beckham Jr. is having a great time at training camp with the New York Giants.
The 24-year-old wide receiver, social rock star and fan favorite is putting on a show every time he steps on the field.
The entertainment this week has been either a couple of one-handed catches, dancing to the music between segments of practice or playing up to the fans running down the sideline after a catch.
His smile is as bright as his gold cleats and his mood reflects that. Walking in the team’s indoor field house after practice Monday, Beckham leap-frogged a stunned reporter, jumped over an upside-down garbage can and then turned to safety Landon Collins and quipped “that something was you,” referring to the can.
Entering his fourth season, Beckham said he is very comfortable in coach Ben McAdoo’s offense.
“Personally, the way that I feel mentally, physically, spiritually right now, I am just in a better place,” Beckham said. “I’m in a real good place. Things are flowing; just continually pushing them in the right direction.”
The three-time Pro Bowler credits the change to life, getting older and growing after some unfortunate incidents.
It’s certainly a lot better than the end of last season.
The Giants were blown out by the Packers 31-13 in Green Bay in the opening round of the playoffs and Beckham had a miserable game, catching four of 11 passes thrown his way and dropping an early touchdown pass. After the game, he allegedly punched a hole in a wall outside the Giants’ locker room. It capped a week in which he was criticized for making an ill-advised trip to Florida on an off-day leading up to the wild-card game to go out on a party boat with some fellow receivers.
Beckham said the pain after last season, which included a stern request from general manager Jerry Reese that he start growing up, got him moving in the right direction.
So did the disappointment of losing in the playoffs.
“You have no idea,” Beckham said of the level of his disappointment. “I really thought about it and I’m thinking about it, even growing up, the Giants – historical team. The Packers – historical team. Lambeau Field, ice cold, perfect conditions, everything that you can dream of and wasn’t able to capture the moment. And did it in a horrible way and a way that, you know, I woke up out of my sleep to. But I used that pain, I used that pain and I turn it into positive energy.”
Since camp opened late last month, Beckham has excited fans with one big play after another.
During a two-minute drill on Sunday, he beat cornerback Eli Apple and went up with his right hand, caught Eli Manning’s touchdown pass, tucking it to his body without the help of his left hand. He then slowly jogged back to the huddle, hoping the coaches might forget that he should have used two hands.
“Get the job done, that’s just where I am at,” Beckham said. “Get the job done however you can. Whether I have to fight or scrap for it, whatever I have to do to come up with it, it’s just got to be mine. There’s no other way to put it.”
Beckham has done that better than any Giants receiver in his first three seasons. In 43 regular-season games, he has 288 receptions, 4,122 yards, and 35 touchdowns — all team records for a player in his first three seasons.
Veteran receiver Brandon Marshall, who signed with the Giants in the offseason, called Beckham the best player in the NFL.
Giants chief executive John Mara insisted that Beckham will get a new contract that will pay him plenty.
“He’s going to get a lot of attention on and off the field,” Marshall said. “As a teammate, you have to be there to support him. You have to be able to deal with that as well because he’s not even a superstar, he’s a rock star. It’s something that our NFL has never seen before. This guy’s a global icon at the age of what, 24 or 25?”
NOTES: Veteran DT Corbin Bryant sustained an undisclosed elbow injury in a short yardage drill. He was carted off the field. … Starting SLB Devon Kennard was limited with an undisclosed injury. … Third-year DE Owa Odighizuwa is behind after missing the offseason workouts for undisclosed reasons. “He has a ways to go; he’s not where he wants to be just yet, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get there,” McAdoo said. … Second-year RB Paul Perkins is playing with the first team despite a poor game in the preseason opener. “By no means have I lost confidence in Paul Perkins,” McAdoo said. “I have a lot of trust and confidence in him. He’s a young player who is working hard to get better and has a lot of value for us.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)