Odell Beckham Jr. still needs 1,373 catches, 20,270 yards, and 173 touchdowns to get to Jerry Rice's level. But no one has gotten off to a better start, including the Pro Football Hall of Famer himself.
Beckham's 176 receptions and 2,625 yards are the most by a player in his first 25 games. His 24 touchdowns are second only to Bill Groman, who had 27 in 25 games.
Yet, to some, it still might sound blasphemous to put Beckham in the same sentence as Rice, the holder of every major receiving record in the 96 years of the NFL. But it doesn't to Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Leading up to his undefeated team's trip to MetLife Stadium in Week 15, Rivera sees just how special Beckham is and can be for years to come.
"He really has an opportunity, I think, to be one of those guys you'll talk about," Rivera said on a conference call this week. "He and Jerry Rice, I've had the great fortune of watching Jerry Rice, and, man, I see a lot of flashes. I played against Jerry as well, and I see a lot of flashes in Odell's game, and I just think he's a tremendous football player."
Rivera has been around the NFL since 1984, when he began his nine-year NFL career as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Rice was drafted the next season when Rivera and the Bears won Super Bowl XX.
"I didn't even hear that," Beckham said today when asked about the opposing coach's comments. "Just, I mean, to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jerry Rice is still shocking to me, knowing what he accomplished and the things he was able to do. That's where you want to go, that's the direction you want to go, but [I'm] nowhere near there. But I do appreciate the compliment and [I] just keep working."
Beckham was then asked who he patterns his game after throughout his years of coming up through the ranks.
"It's kind of a combination of a lot of people," said Beckham, who was born in 1992, the year Rice posted his seventh of 11 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. "I used to watch the Larry Fitzgerald's, how he would go up and attack the ball and how Megatron [Calvin Johnson] would go up and attack the ball. Then I'd watch how DeSean Jackson gets open down field and how he uses his speed and watch how Vic [Victor Cruz] used his quickness. I would literally just try and take everybody's strength and try and combine it into my own game and use it. Really taking a lot of things they did and try to make it your own craft."
Beckham's historic pace was just one of the topics today at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Here are three takeaways from Thursday:
1. COFIELD BACK IN THE HOUSE; OWA RETURNS TO PRACTICE
The Giants bolstered their defensive line today by bringing back tackle Barry Cofield, who played for Big Blue from 2006-10 and was on the Super Bowl XLII-winning team. Earlier in the season, the Giants had to place Johnathan Hankins on season-ending injured reserve with a pectoral injury, and now fellow tackle Markus Kuhn is week-to-week with a knee.
"It feels great, it feels great," Cofield said. "It's very nostalgic and then you get to work and you feel good about that as well. So many familiar faces in the staff, front office, around the building, cafeteria, such a solid organization where you get that kind of consistency is very comforting."
Cofield feels like a rookie again.
"Everybody, once they hit like year 8 or 9, they should take a year off," he said. "It's been almost a calendar year since I hit anybody and it definitely shows in the way that I feel. I'm excited about that, I feel like it was a fountain of youth, and I feel like I can play a few more years, that's my goal."
Meanwhile, rookie defensive end Owa Odighizuwa practiced today for the first time since being placed on injured reserve with a designation to return on Nov. 5 with a hamstring injury. The earliest the third-round draft choice can be added to the active roster is in two weeks.
2. INJURY REPORT
For the Giants, WR Dwayne Harris (shoulder), LB Devon Kennard (foot/hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), and DE George Selvie (concussion) did not participate in practice. On Wednesday, Coughlin said Kennard will not be ready for Sunday's game. LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and LB J.T. Thomas III (ankle) were limited on Thursday.
"Yeah, he's a tough guy now," Coughlin said of Flowers. "He wants to go and it's tough not to let him go. So what you try to do is stay within some kind of limit, maybe 50 percent, but he's going to get those snaps. You think that he wouldn't be able to, but he goes right out and does it."
For the Panthers, S Colin Jones (groin), LB David Mayo (hamstring), and RB Jonathan Stewart (foot, ruled out for Sunday) did not practice. TE Greg Olsen (knee) and CB Charles Tillman (knee) were limited. WR Brenton Bersin (groin) was full-go.
3. MCADOO ENCOURAGED BY JENNINGS IN RUN GAME
With the help of the run game, the Giants were able to finish off Monday night's victory in Miami. Rashad Jennings rushed 22 times for 81 yards, which were both highs by a Giants running back this season.
"We had a couple get out of the gate early," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "Our big guys up front, they fought pretty well, didn't win them all. They had their hands full, but they battled. We got Rashad going, had a couple nice runs early. It was encouraging to see, and he got a nice workload because of it."
Will Jennings receive the bulk of the workload again this week against Carolina's No. 4 run defense?
"We'll see how the game goes," McAdoo said.