CINCINNATI - Odell Beckham Jr. has played in more Pro Bowls than preseason games in his NFL career. There aren't many players in the NFL who can say that, but after Friday night Beckham won't be able to say it any longer.
One of the most popular players in the league will make his preseason debut against the Bengals after missing all five of his opportunities to perform in the exhibition games last summer due to his hamstring issues. And while many players of Beckham's stature may not appreciate or look forward to these meaningless contests where the risk of injury is far greater than any possible reward, the Giants receiver actually seems to be relishing it.
"I think the biggest thing I'm looking forward to is hearing that national anthem and getting on the field again," he said Thursday. "There's just something about it, it broke me down the first time I got on the field. I don't know what it's going to do this time, but I am looking forward to being able to line up and see 32 across the other way, and hopefully get to see him do a little something, and just keep it moving from there."
Once it gets to the "home of the brave," though, Beckham isn't even sure what will happen next.
"I actually had to ask, "What do we have to wear to the games?" and stuff like that, because I honestly didn't know," Beckham said. "I was at home every weekend [last preseason]. Every time they were traveling, I was at home. I got to go to the preseason [home] games last year, but never had been a part of the whole thing. This is all kind of new to me as well."
Everything is new to Beckham this summer, including the football. Asked by a reporter how his second training camp with the Giants was going, he interrupted the question with a smile and made the correction: "This is my first camp."
On the field, though, he's a natural showman. Anyone who has seen him practicing the last few days against the Bengals can tell that. He makes running routes and catching passes look easy, and it certainly frustrates opponents.
In fact, there is a good chance he put on a better performance in those workouts than he will on Friday night. His reps will be limited with the starters -- Tom Coughlin has said they'll be on the field for just one or two series -- and the playbook will most likely be pretty thin. There seems little opportunity for Beckham to make an eye-opener of a play, even though many of those who tune in or attend the game will be wanting to catch a glimpse of the new Madden cover boy and see what kind of video game moves he can make in real life.
"That's the tough part," he said of the preseason limitations. "It's tough being competitive and feeling like you didn't get anything done, and you're only in there for however long you're going to be in there for. Just watch these others guy who are going to be playing, and cheer on my teammates."
When it comes to preseason games, Beckham is all too familiar with that role.