Odell Beckham Jr. gives a thumb up (USA Today Sports)
Odell Beckham Jr. gives a thumb up (USA Today Sports)

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — New York Giants fans should be optimistic about the comeback of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after this week's joint practices against the Detroit Lions.

Even if Beckham doesn't play in Friday's preseason game at Ford Field against the Lions, his work this week represented a major step up from what he had done earlier in camp back home. Since suffering a gruesome ankle injury almost 11 months ago that ended his 2017 season, Beckham has been brought along slowly, but the past few days have represented a major step up in his on-field work.

"There were some periods that I was going eight plays in a row," Beckham said after Thursday's walkthrough. "You kind of build up that wind again. Even in practice I’ve been getting pushed a lot, asking for reps because I knew I needed it. I need to feel that. I need to feel eight to 10 plays [in a row] and just kind of get that back.

"This was very helpful to go against somebody else and … but every day you have a chance to go out there and compete."

Beckham practiced extensively on both Tuesday and Wednesday, both higher-tempo and higher-intensity sessions, and he looked good. His reps against Lions cornerback Darius Slay were a bit limited but still a great showcase on the first day here. They go way back to college when Beckham was at LSU and Slay at Mississippi State, so OBJ wasn't about to look past the challenge.

"Every time I go against him it’s great energy," Beckham said. "He obviously has been one of the best corners in the league. He’s been doing his thing for a while. It’s always been hard every time we’ve gone against each other. We just like to compete."

Week 1 is 24 days away, and the Jacksonville Jaguars await. Another exceptional matchup could be in the offing for Beckham if he's ready to go, health-wise, and experiences no setbacks along the way. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey could match up with Beckham in what would be must-see TV, with another layer of drama added with Ramsey's less-than-praiseworthy comments on Giants QB Eli Manning.

But Beckham wasn't biting on that one when asked about Ramsey. "He said what?" Beckham asked rhetorically with a smile as he walked away from the media scrum on Thursday. He surely knows.

That said, the Giants still have three more preseason games prior to then. It's not clear if Beckham will — or needs to — suit up for Friday's game, but he almost certainly will not play in the fourth preseason game. That leaves just one more exhibition contest for Beckham to get live game reps: Jets vs. Giants at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 24.

Beckham believes these joint practices with the Lions might actually provide as much or more value than running a handful of plays in a preseason game. He suggested that he and head coach Pat Shurmur have a plan in place for his game work that will be flexible depending on how each week's worth of work goes.

"It’s just about timing," Beckham said. "Whenever it’s time to go, it’ll be time to go. I feel pretty good. I feel fast. It’s starting to come back to me. I am just thankful to be where I am at right now.

"I just need [work]. The season is coming up. You need that work. I can’t really shy away from it right now. Like I said, once your ankle snaps and you feel like your whole world is turned upside down, you see things a little differently. To be able to walk again, to run again … it really was a blessing. So every chance I get to get back on the field and practice my craft, I am going as hard as I can."