Beckham and rest of Giants veterans report
By EVERETT MERRILL
The Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. showed another sign he is prepared to put aside his contract talks for now.
Beckham reported with fellow veterans for the opening day of Giants training camp. Beckham didn’t talk to the media Wednesday as veterans arrived at the Giants’ headquarters adjacent to MetLife Stadium.
The 25-year-old Beckham will earn $8.5 million entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract. If the Giants do not designate him as a franchise player, he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. He wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid player.
First-year coach Pat Shurmur plans to be cautious how his three-time Pro Bowl receiver will be used, especially in training camp. Beckham broke his left ankle in Week 5 and never returned as the Giants finished 3-13.
“As we go forward, he’s coming back from injury,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to continue to be smart about what we give him from the start.”
Shurmur punted when asked if Beckham’s contract status would be a distraction to the team.
“We don’t talk about contracts,” he said. “The focus for me is to keep the players thinking about football.”
Shurmur takes over a team ranked 31st in total defense and 21st in offense last season. The offense should benefit from running back Saquon Barkley, the second overall pick in the draft.
“He’s very smart, he gets it,” said Shurmur of the Penn State standout. “In a lot of ways that’s a great place to start. He’s super-talented. The thing that stuck out to me is he embraces work. The mind is always looking for an easy way out and he doesn’t.”
The Giants significantly upgraded their offensive line by signing left tackle Nate Solder from New England. That moves Ereck Flowers, the Giants’ top pick in 2015, to right tackle. Flowers struggled to protect Eli Manning in the passing game.
Second-round pick Will Hernandez out of UTEP should vie for a spot at guard.
The defense, which will have a 3-4 look this season under new coordinator James Bettcher, will be bolstered by the additions of free-agent linebackers Alec Ogletree, Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin, who was signed Wednesday.
Manning returns for his 15th year and is buoyed by the prospects of throwing to a healthy Beckham; second-year tight-end Evan Engram; the speedy Sterling Shepard, who caught 59 passes as a slot target; and Barkley.
“I’m excited about the guys who are on this offense.” Manning said. “The receivers, the offensive line, the playmakers we have. It looks good on paper, but we have to make sure we do what we need to do on the field.
“There’s always expectations and no one has higher expectations than I do. You have to make the most of it each and every season.”
Never in the 92-year history of the franchise had the Giants lost 13 games in a season. For the first time in 39 seasons, they will be led by a new head coach and general manager (Dave Gettleman) after Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese were fired.
Gettleman, however, is undergoing treatment for lymphoma.
∫ NOTES: Olivier Vernon, who will move from DE to a pass-rushing outside LB, said he will leave the national anthem policy to the commissioner and the NFL Players Association. Vernon was the only Giants player to take a knee every game last season. . Former special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is back. He is helping the club while current coordinator Thomas McGaughey deals with “health issues.” …There is some concern whether supplemental draft pick Sam Beal will play this season. The cornerback hurt a shoulder in rookie practices this week and might need surgery.