The New York Giants took the field for their first time as a team this spring, but they were missing at least one of their most important players.
Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants' talented and enigmatic receiver, was a no-show for the first day of organized team activities (OTAs), a team source confirmed. The reason for his absence wasn't clear, but he doesn't necessarily need to give one. All 10 of the OTA sessions the Giants will hold over the next three weeks are part of the voluntary offseason program.
The only mandatory event this offseason for Giants players is the team's three-day minicamp, which is scheduled for June 13-15.
Still, Beckham's absence is notable if only because of the way he left off last season and Giants GM Jerry Reese's postseason declaration that it was time for Beckham to finally "grow up." Beckham ended last year with a disappointing performance in the team's playoff loss in Green Bay, which was preceded by his ill-timed trip with his fellow receivers to Miami, and followed by his decision to punch a hole in the wall outside the interview area in Lambeau Field.
After the Giants returned home, Reese, in his postseason press conference, said Beckham is "a smart guy (who) sometimes doesn't do smart things" and that "I see a guy who needs to think about some of the things he does." Months later, Reese insisted that his words were not meant to be "critical" of Beckham, no matter how they sounded.
In March, Giants co-owner John Mara said he believed that Beckham "is going to mature over time" and added "I'm not losing any sleep worrying about him … He's the last guy on our team that I'm worried about." As proof of that, the Giants recently decided to pick up the fifth-year option on Beckham's contract for 2018. He'll be due about $8.5 million in salary next season after making about $1.8 million this year.
As much as Beckham can create headlines with anything he does -- or doesn't do -- he likely wasn't the only player missing from the Monday OTA. There's no way to know for sure because there was no media access. Interestingly, the media was originally scheduled to be present on Monday, but the team made a sudden and unexplained schedule change last week, switching the first media access day to Thursday.
There has also been no media access to first month of the Giants' offseason workout program, so it's not known if Beckham has been regularly or even occasionally in attendance for that. The only event he's known to have missed was Eli Manning's annual gathering of offensive players at Duke University last month. Beckham explained he couldn't attend because he was scheduled to have oral surgery that same week.
Despite the media blackout, though, the Giants did provide information on the first day of OTAs through their social media accounts, which documented the attendance of many of their key players. That included all four quarterbacks, receivers Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple, safety Landon Collins, linebacker Jonathan Casillas, first-round pick Evan Engram and more.
The fact that Beckham, the Giants' most marketable player, did not appear in any photos or videos the team released was the first clue that he was missing. Several other big name players were not shown in those photos or videos either, but it could not be immediately confirmed whether or not they attended.