Odell Beckham Jr.
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

In a week that saw other stars skip out entirely, a recovering Odell Beckham Jr. handled his case flawlessly at New York Giants minicamp.

You’d think, the occasional practice brawl aside, that mandatory minicamp would go by without a controversy for the New York Giants. Presumably, even Odell Beckham Jr. would escape the week without scrutiny, especially considering the receiver took the field for the first time since his devastating ankle injury from October.

However, New York is a place where Beckham’s visits to the dentist are analyzed to no end, so of course, Beckham’s prescience at minicamp has raised questions.

The superstar receiver, entering the final year of his initial NFL contract, was cleared to practice at minicamp this week. While Beckham was in East Rutherford for organized team activities last month, minicamp was Beckham’s first form of football activity since that Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

While there was, and still may be, a little bit of rust to shake off, he teased glimpses of the player many have declared the best receiver in football, evidenced by videos captured during the week’s proceedings.

This being Beckham, however, trouble had to come from somewhere, and in this case, it came from Beckham’s absence from team drills. Speaking with reporters after Beckham’s first day of activity on Tuesday, Shurmur was asked whether Beckham was indeed medically cleared to partake in team drills, and voluntarily chose to skip them.

Shurmur, already dealing with endless Beckham questions just five months into his young Giants tenure, diffused the situation the best he could.

“Everyone is at different phases of their training and he was like a couple other guys that didn’t do some teams drills, but he’s cleared,” Shurmur said according to transcripts posted on Giants.com. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I look at a player that loves football, he’s out there right now doing his thing and he wants to be here and as the coach and the player, that’s what we talk about.”

“He is cleared to practice and that’s what he was doing,” Shurmur later added. “He is out there practicing. If you all want to count the reps, then go ahead, but he was out there practicing … I don’t necessarily think it helps anybody to play the word game here.”

The fact the question even needs to be asked unveils an uncomfortable truth in New York: in the eyes of some, Beckham can never win. Which is a shame, because, in this case, he handled his workload perfectly.

Perhaps the Beckham detractors simply detest Beckham’s progress simply because it puts major damage in their narratives. All offseason, the social media prognosticators put the chances Beckham would show up to spring preparation at slim to none, instead, competing with each other to figure out the best trade scenario.

Instead, Beckham not only took the field, leaving both Giants staff and fans optimistic for training camp, but Beckham remained on the field to work with his quarterback, Eli Manning, after practice had ended.

“He ran maybe three or four routes, but he looks good coming out of his breaks,” Manning reported. “From what I’ve seen, he looks sharp and ready to go.”

With his Giant status remaining the team’s top headline and question mark until a decision is made, Beckham’s mere prescience for the Giants can only be seen as a positive, especially with so many other superstars neglecting to partake in workouts labeled mandatory.

Fellow elite receiver Julio Jones, likewise facing an upcoming contract crossroads, didn’t report to Atlanta’s proceedings, and safety Earl Thomas was a no-show in Seattle. While there’s been little concern with the departures of Jones and Thomas, there’d be an endless supply of tweets and articles on Beckham’s disappearance, had that indeed been the case. The fact he was able to perform a few activities was an added bonus, though they don’t generate the same kind of buzz.

In the end, Beckham’s week concludes on the highest of notes because he did what was best for the future of both himself and the future. Over the past two seasons, misfortune has befallen Beckham even before the first regular season snap.

In August 2016, an accidental tangle-up with then-newcomer Janoris Jenkins cost him a few training camp practices. Last season, perhaps setting the tone for the Giants’ dreadful 2017 campaign, Beckham was injured on a low hit from Cleveland Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun cost him Week 1.

Like many NFL superstars, Beckham isn’t infallible and he will always have his fair share of critics. There are situations in his career, like the infamous New Year’s boat trip prior to his first career playoff game, he could’ve admittedly handled better.

Those who dispel Beckham for not fully participating would surely complain if Beckham injured himself further in June workouts. Beckham’s comeback can fully complete itself in August when the Giants reconvene for training camp. The idea of pushing himself now is ludicrous at best.

The New York Giants are a team that has undoubtedly had its share of controversies in recent years. Part of a team that’s dangerously teetering toward creating a losing culture. Beckham’s minicamp is nowhere near one of shenanigans—rather, providing a sense of security to a team in desperate need of one.

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