*Odell Beckham Jr. joined his teammates as Giants' minicamp began on Tuesday: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – He's back.
Odell Beckham, Jr.'s hair looks a little bit blonder, his beard is a bit bushier, and as he said, "I have gotten a couple grey hairs." But he returned to the Giants today much the same player and person he's long been – someone who relishes every opportunity to be with his teammates on the field, and who can orchestrate a news conference like few others off it.
The record-setting, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver joined his teammates for the opening of the Giants' three-day minicamp. Though his reps were limited, Beckham enjoys nothing more than catching passes from Eli Manning.
"It is just great to be back out here," Beckham said.
His presence qualified as news only because Beckham had skipped the team's 10 organized team activities. Defensive end Olivier Vernon, who also missed the OTAs, was on the field as well in the 90-degree heat.
"It's good to have Odell and O.V. back," coach Ben McAdoo said. "Glad to have them here, worked hard. Seem to be in great condition."
"It was good to have everybody out there practicing," Manning said. "I thought we had a good practice. It was sharp. Guys were running around so we just have to continue making improvements. We have some new guys to the team. We have to get everybody in their position and continue to get better."
Did he keep in contact with Beckham throughout the offseason?
"I've been talking to him through the (off)season," Manning said. "We text and call and we've definitely been in touch."
Beckham spoke of undergoing personal growth this offseason, saying, "I feel as if I am a little bit wiser. … Growth is something that is a lifetime. If you stop growing, then you really aren't progressing in life, so we all can grow as well each and every day."
Now preparing for his 14th season, Manning has seen any number of young players mature and develop during his career.
"I think for all the young guys it takes a number of years to figure out what you need to do and how to handle things," Manning said. "It is all new to a lot of guys. I was in that same position years ago and had to go through it, had to mature, had to realize things, and just understand how to handle everything that is kind of thrown at you. I think he is doing a good job doing that."
During Beckham's absence, he worked out with his trainer in Los Angeles, was a ubiquitous presence at NBA Finals games, and remained in the public eye.
Rather than discuss his offseason whereabouts, Beckham was eager to talk about working with his teammates, including Sterling Shepard, 12-year veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Evan Engram, the Giants' first-round choice in the NFL Draft in April.
"I have talked to (Marshall) pretty much throughout the whole offseason," Beckham said "Just to get out here and see him work – he is a guy who has been doing this for a while now. We will be able to take from each other and we all hold each other accountable, and I think it is going to be a lot of fun being able to work with a guy like that."
Beckham is looking forward to continuing to develop the chemistry he and Shepard established last season and appreciates the second-year man's passion.
"To see young Shep, it just put a smile on my face," Beckham said. "He has such a bright future ahead of him, and he puts that smile on your face. It reminds me of when I was young and it was my second year in the league and you are just so happy to be here and to be happy to do what he is doing, so it is reassuring to see from him."
Beckham shared the field for the first time today with Engram, who was an outstanding receiver at the University of Mississippi.
"When he came out to (Los Angeles earlier this spring) and I was out there training in L.A., I got to meet up with him," Beckham said. "I took him out to eat and we just got to hang out for a couple days; we were just talking and he seems really excited about it. I was telling him how excited I am to have him here, a guy who – it reminds me of when the Saints had Jimmy Graham and they would line him up on the outside and create nightmare mismatches and Gronk (New England's Rob Gronkowski) and put him on the outside.
"He is a real hybrid. If you put him out there and you have a safety guard him that is going to be trouble. If you put him out there and you have a linebacker guard him that is going to be trouble. And from what I have been hearing he has even tortured corners. So I am really looking forward to seeing him develop and how his game is going to evolve, and just what he can bring to the table. I know he is a special talent; he came out of the SEC, so I already know he is a beast."
One that will team with Beckham and Co. to help the Giants torment their opponents in 2017.