When wide receiver Calvin Johnson bowed out of the 2015 Pro Bowl due to injury, rookie Odell Beckham Jr. stepped in as the first alternate.
Now after two practices of throwing to the Giants' rookie, Matthew Stafford, who is Johnson's quarterback in Detroit, sees that he didn't have to downgrade.>> VIEW LIVE PRO BOWL BLOG
"I'm sure Eli [Manning] loves it," Stafford said after Friday's workout at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. "It's fun to play with guys like that. With Calvin, I've got one of the best, if not the best, of all time. It's fun to play with guys who are special like that. It makes the game easier for you."
Stafford is one of three quarterbacks "drafted" earlier in the week by alumni team captain Michael Irvin, who also took Beckham as his first wide receiver.
"He's really impressive. He's a bigger guy than I thought he would be just because when you watch him run on tape, you think he's a small, shifty guy," Stafford said of the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Beckham. "He's bigger than he looks on tape and he's made all sorts of great catches already this week just goofing around in practice. Obviously [everyone] knows the one [against] Dallas where he caught that ball over his head. He's showing flashes of that each and every day."
Meanwhile, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who has his own pair of Pro Bowl receivers in Atlanta with Julio Jones and Roddy White, is just as impressed with Beckham.
"He's special, Odell's special," said Ryan, who is also playing for Team Irvin after being selected to his third Pro Bowl. "And I think he's shown that in a short amount of time in the league. He has put himself on the map, specifically with the catch. The catch that he made this year is pretty unbelievable. But he's been great to throw to. He's extremely quick, gets out of his cuts really, really well. He's got great hands. He's a good teammate. He's fun to be around."
Ryan also knows he's more than just "The Catch."
"I think, first of all, he's got a skillset that's pretty special," Ryan said. "He's elite when it comes to getting in and out of his breaks, his set of hands; he's got incredibly soft hands. But he's also, in the little time that I've been around him, he's a smart guy. He's good when it comes to talking about route concepts and things that he likes. And I'm just very, very impressed with him."
Check out photos of Team Irvin's photo shoot at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in advance of the 2015 Pro Bowl.