Two of the league's top receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. and A.J. Green, will meet Monday night as the Bengals come to MetLife Stadium.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham, Jr is unfailingly complimentary when he is asked about an opposing team's wide receivers at his weekly meeting with reporters. Today, he gave his most effusive review of the season when asked about Cincinnati Bengals wideout A.J. Green. The Giants host the Bengals on Monday night.
"A.J. is one of the best, hands down," Beckham said. "He was gifted with speed, size, hands - pretty much everything that you would think of in a receiver, he's got it and then some. He's one of my favorite in the league. I've watched him for a long time. When he was at Georgia, I was at LSU. We watched those SEC guys pretty closely. (The Giants') defense has a tough challenge ahead for sure."
Although they have plenty of competition, Beckham and Green are arguably the NFL's two best receivers. They have been in the Pro Bowl in every season they've played – five for Green, two for Beckham. Green was the fourth overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft, Beckham the 12th choice in 2014.
This season, Green leads the NFL with 59 receptions and is second with 896 yards. He has scored three touchdowns. Beckham has 44 catches for 676 yards and five scores.
So curious minds wanted to know, does Beckham get "a little more jacked up" when a receiver of Green's talent is on the other side?
"Absolutely," Beckham said. "I'm out there watching. I'm watching what he's doing, because I enjoy it. I love football like that. I love seeing other guys who are great. As long as I'm not going against you. It's not like I'm rooting for him, but I like to see someone at their best. If not, I like to see them compete."
Beckham had trouble singling out one skill or virtue that makes Green so dangerous.
"He's got it all," Beckham said. "Like I said, I couldn't pick one for you. He's (6-4) and he goes up to get every ball. He's got great hands and he runs great routes. He's got speed. I don't know what bad I could really say about him."
On a conference call from Cincinnati, Green had nothing bad to say about Beckham, either. Then again, he had little to say, period. Green's reticence in interviews is as obvious as his tremendous talent on the field. Green is humble and soft-spoken, and his answers seldom extend beyond three sentences.
So it was when a reporter asked if gets excited facing an elite receiver like Beckham, and whether it "factor(s) into anything you do."
"No, I'm not the one guarding him," Green said. "I just go out there and play my game. I don't worry what he's doing. I just go out there and do my job."
Unlike Beckham, Green won't confess to watching other receivers.
"I just continue to work on my game and try to get better," he said. "I don't really take anything from anybody's game. I just go out there and work as hard as I can."
Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis is tasked with trying to stop Beckham Monday night.
"Well, he is a very good player," said Lewis, who saw Beckham for the first time when the teams held joint practices last summer in Cincinnati. "He is strong at the catch, he is good with the ball in his hands, he does an excellent job, he is explosive out of the breaks and the cuts and he has a great radius to catch the football, obviously. You have to do a very good job of always being conscious of where he is. He is a handful."
Cornerback Leon Hall is in his first season with the Giants after playing nine years for the Bengals. He covered Green in practice for four years, and now does the same with Beckham.
"They're obviously different types of athletes," Hall said. "A.J. is a little taller. Everyone likes to categorize the taller or little, smaller receivers. They've both been productive since they've gotten into the league. Both have great hands and can run really well. Beckham probably does a little bit better with the shorter routes. Gives a little more quickness."
Despite the differences, the 5-11 Beckham found at least one comparison in his game to Green's.
"Maybe the way he goes up and gets a ball," Beckham said. "The way he attacks it in the air. There is little bits and pieces of each person's game that I'll try and take and incorporate it into my own. I'm sure there is a little bit of that in there. We're just not the same build. Not the same receiver."
But they're both excellent. And having them on the same field should make for some fun and excitement on Monday.
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