Say what you want about your opinion on the Giants trading away star WR Odell Beckham Jr. His former teammates miss him.
"Just his presence," Sterling Shepard told The Post's Paul Schwartz, adding that there has been an adjustment period to get used to him not in the locker room. "He's a great guy, he's loved around this facility. Just his presence, I guess."
Beckham has always been one of a kind since entering the league, and it showed in his awe-inspiring play that was matched with an exuberant personality as well. Whether it was making his signature one-handed grabs like it was just another day on the gridiron, or dancing in around practice with players like Shepard and Saquon Barkley, Beckham was always keeping things light and fun.
With him now in Cleveland, though, one would think that joy has fallen off some, but that's not the case. There's another in the receivers room that has kept it vocal and animated.
"Odell's a funny guy, great teammate to be around," Cody Latimer said. "Always bringing energy, fun, excitement, always something every day. We got the same thing with Russell Shepard. He's very vocal, as everybody in the world knows. He was always our really, really vocal guy and he's still around."
Beckham's spotlight will likely shift to Sterling Shepard this season. Latimer says he has already noticed a change in his demeanor, calling him "more aggressive" so far this offseason. Shepard was Beckham's right-hand man when he broke into the league as a second-rounder in 2016, and he knows it's his turn to step up now that he's gone.
"Yeah, I think that's just naturally what's going to happen," Shepard said about his increased role. "He was such a big part of this offense. I guess I'm the next one up in line."
It really is no guess. The Giants may have brought in veteran Golden Tate to make up for Beckham's loss, but they also extended Shepard this summer with a four-year, $41 million deal. Shepard realizes he'll be counted on as one of the main players to pick up the production Beckham leaves behind, and he feels he was prepped for that when No. 13 missed the final four games of the 2018 season.
"I feel like last season with Odell going out for those last games kind of prepared me for what I was going to get into," Shepard said. "The season before that as well with him going down with an ankle injury. I feel like it prepared me for this moment."
Latimer added: "He always has that dog in him, you see his aggression, how he plays, he brings it every day in practice. He's gonna be loud and hyped cheering his boys on, pushing us. I've seen the growth. He's still young. And he got a nice deal too, oh yeah, he's about to do some amazing things this year."
But one man isn't going to make up for Beckham's game, one that forced defense's to specifically gameplan around limiting his production. Shepard will need the help of Latimer, Russell Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley. The Giants will likely have Eli Manning sharing the wealth, so it's all a matter of who will be open.
And that's how the Giants like it.
"Anybody can get the ball," Latimer said. "You're open, you don't get it, that means somebody else is getting it and you're hoping they make a play. We got an unselfish room in there. We don't really care or actually don't talk about it at all, who's getting the ball.
"It's a group effort."