CINCINNATI –** Close friendships, fan adulation and football are all braided together in Odell Beckham Jr.'s whirlwind life, and all were a big part of his four-day stay here with the rest of the Giants.
The team practiced twice with the Cincinnati Bengals, their opponents in Friday night's preseason opener in Paul Brown Stadium. Beckham, who caught 91 passes and was selected the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, made several catches in the workouts.
Off the field, it's likely Beckham enjoyed the week as much as any player on either team. As soon as the Giants arrived Monday, he was met at the hotel by Jeremy Hill, the Bengals' running back who was his teammate at LSU. The two players are as close as brothers. They immediately went to visit another Tiger, wide receiver James Wright, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
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"It was great being able to go see him," Beckham said. "I know he's in a tough spot right now with an injury. A guy who's just worked so hard for everything he has, (and) really cherishes every moment that he gets to be in the position that he's in, it's just unfortunate that that's the way the game goes and that it happened to him. He's going to be out for a little while. So, just make sure that I could be there for him, and help him keep his mind right because we consider ourselves brothers. I'm going to look out for him, no matter what."
Beckham and Hill were together again Wednesday night and were expected to see each other again the night before the game.
"He's one of my good friends," Hill told Bengals.com. "I talk to him pretty much every day. We have a strong relationship."
Beckham, Hill, Wright and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry were a close-knit group at LSU. All of them entered the NFL last season, Beckham and Landry as first-round draft choices, Hill as a second-round selection and Wright as a seventh-round pick.
"Anytime there's a chance for me, Jarvis, Jeremy, James - any of those guys who were close, to link up, nothing is really going to get in the way of it," Beckham said. "It's kind of like a top priority. I'll probably see him tonight again, go by his house. See his dog; his dog's been growing a little bit. I know he wants me to come see him. It's great to just be able to see your brothers every now and then."
Landry (84 catches, 758 yards, five touchdowns) and Hill (1,124 yards and nine scores) might have been voted Rookie of the Year had it not been for Beckham's 91 receptions, 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games.
Hill said he had no problem with the final voting.
"What he did in 12 games, it's unbelievable," Hill said. "I've never seen someone do that in the amount of games he played in. It was truly incredible. He's definitely deserving of that award. All the adversity he had the first four weeks (which he missed with a hamstring injury), people doubting him and saying he was a wasted first-round pick. That definitely weighed on him. He wanted to go out there and show everybody what he's capable of doing. I was happy to see that. It just goes to show his character and grit and determination he has. That's just the person he is and that's the guy I know."
Beckham is equally complimentary toward his buddies.
"We're in the middle of games and I'm looking up at the Jumbotron and those guys are on the screen and they're scoring or they're doing something," Beckham said. "You're watching them make plays. I remember catching myself in the middle of plays last year, looking up at the Jumbotron and Eli (Manning) is calling out the play. I'm watching highlights and seeing those guys on there. It was just extra motivation, extra incentive, to do better."
Beckham attracts a crowd wherever he goes, his popularity among football fans rivaling that of Taylor Swift with teenage girls. Each time he arrived or departed the practice field here, fans screamed his name, wanting a photo, an autograph, or just a wave.
"When it's kids, it never gets old," Beckham said. "I remember being a kid at one point and looking up to somebody, being like, 'There he goes,' or things of that matter. In that case, it never really gets old to me. There were a lot of people out there, and some of them were wearing Bengals jerseys, talking about, 'We're Giants fans.' It's like, 'You have a Bengals jersey on,' (you're) obviously not a Giants fan. Then there are those other people around here and they know that it's open and you're able to get signatures. They're sitting there with like 500 pictures, and it's like this is not for your little kid or anything like that. It's a tough position to be in every now and then, just picking and choosing what you sign for."
He doesn't have to make those decisions when he's out on the field, catching passes and scoring touchdowns. Beckham said he enjoyed the two joint practices here, and he was impressed with Cincinnati cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones and Darqueze Dennard.
"It was fun to be able to go up against somebody who's not on my team, and just be able to get a different look," Beckham said. "Those guys are very good over there. I thought highly of Dennard seemed like he had a lot of potential, and he's going to be a very good cornerback coming up pretty soon. I think Pacman (Jones), he's been in the league for what (nine) years or something like that? A savvy vet who just knows the ins and outs of the game, I was very impressed with him."
Beckham again demonstrated that in addition to being very good at what he does, he's going to have fun doing it, on and off the field.
"This is what you worked all your life to get here to do," he said. "Now, you're finally able to do it. You never know when it's going to be over, so I'm going to enjoy every single moment of it."