New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) drops a pass in the 4th quarter as New York Jets cornerback Darrin Walls (26) looks on against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on December 6, 2015. Photo by Rich Kane/UPI | License Photo
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lost in the headlines concerning head coach Tom Coughlin's future with the team was the return of a contrite Odell Beckham Jr. from his one-game, league-imposed suspension.
Beckham, who was punished for committing multiple player safety violations in the game against the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago, returned to the team in a low-key manner, according to Coughlin.
"He just attended the meetings and he was very quiet, to be honest with you," Coughlin said. "Took part in everything. The guys, I'm sure, welcomed him back. He just came in, took his seat like he always does, and we went to work."
During the part of practice open to the media Wednesday, Beckham took his usual spot alongside his teammates during the warmup period, the only part of practice in which Coughlin permits a mix of up-tempo music to be played in order to help the players loosen up.
Beckham, who normally can be seen bopping to the beat, was noticeably subdued.
After practice, he spoke to the media for the first time since returning Monday from his suspension.
"I'm happy to be back," he said. "It was tough not being able to be here with my teammates.
"I think sometimes you don't realize how fortunate you are to do this, that sometimes you may take it for granted and be like, 'Oh, I don't want to go into work.' Just having some time off and being able to sit back, you really miss it, miss being here, and I'm definitely happy to be back."
Beckham refused to confirm reports that he felt threatened by a baseball-bat-wielding Panthers player identified as defensive back Marcus Ball or that he was the target of homophobic slurs.
A video that has since gone viral shows the player believed to be Ball crossing to the Giants' side of the 50-yard line, the bat in hand and exchanging words with Beckham, who then had to be held back by teammates Brad Wing and Jerome Cunningham.
The war of words spilled onto the field, where Beckham was penalized three times for unsportsmanlike conduct against the Panthers, including one play in which he took a running leap head first at Josh Norman, catching the cornerback in the side of the head.
"What happened was I wasn't in control of myself and I ended up hurting my team with big penalties," Beckham said.
"It was poor sportsmanship and not something you want to put on film. You can't get the moment back or go back in time, so you move forward and learn from it."
Beckham said he hasn't spoken with Norman, who successfully got under the second-year receiver's skin two weeks ago.
He added, "I don't think I'm going to change the way that I play. Just change the actions that were on the field that Sunday. It's not what we should be doing and not something that I want to represent the Giants with.
"Most important is that kids are looking up and trying to learn from me, and I don't want to put that out there for them. I don't think I'm going to play with any less intensity. I don't think I'm going to play with less emotion.
"You're always responsible for your own actions. You can only control what you can control, so make sure you take control of what you can.
Coughlin said he planned to visit with Beckham at some point Wednesday.
"I expect the fact that he's learned a great deal from this situation," the coach said, "that he will have taken a little of addressing himself in terms of how that happened and plan on doing a better job. He's got to conduct himself differently."
Beckham needs one more touchdown reception to set a franchise record for a single season. Beckham's current total of 13 touchdown catches has him tied with Homer Jones, who set the mark in 1967.