EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.** – The performance of Odell Beckham Jr. stood out as one of the few positives for the Giants in Monday night's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. And this week, both the Giants and Beckham face another formidable challenge.
The Giants will journey to the Pacific Northwest for a game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. And because he is emerging as the team's most dangerous receiver in his rookie season, Beckham will likely see plenty of Richard Sherman, the two-time All-Pro who is universally considered one of the NFL's very best cornerbacks.
"It is definitely a challenge," Beckham said today. "They're a great defense and have been a great defense for a while. It is nothing that you are not willing to face. These are the games you live to play for, the moments you live to play for to go against the best of the best. To go against Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks and the L.O.B (Legion of Boom), to go against all those guys, why not? Why not embrace that opportunity? Why not take the challenge, accept it and face it?
"He is one the best in the league, hands down, so I expect nothing but the best. That means we all have to be on our 'A' game. It is a challenge we are all up for."
A challenge it is. The Seahawks' defense is ranked fourth overall (304.9 yards allowed per game) and sixth against the pass (221.9). Beckham will learn quickly that Seattle's corners like to get right in the grill of opposing receivers to challenge them physically.
"He is going to have to learn, he will learn, whatever side he lines up on, that they are going to be in press alignment the majority of the game," coach Tom Coughlin said. "In Richard Sherman, you have an outstanding defensive corner with long arms and a lot of speed, a very physical guy. For Odell, he is coming off a game in which he played against two outstanding corners and he is going to do the same thing this weekend."
Beckham, the Giants' first-round draft choice this year, had the biggest night of his young career in the 40-24 loss to the Colts. He led all receivers with eight catches for 156 yards, including a 59-yard catch-and-run that was the Giants' second-longest play of the season. The yardage total was the third-highest ever for a Giants rookie.
"I think Odell Beckham Jr. has done some really good things," quarterback Eli Manning said. "He has shown he can make a lot of plays for us, learning the offense, and moving around to a lot of different spots. I think he is up for whatever challenge is thrown at him and he is still growing as a player. But he definitely does some good things and we need him to keep getting better and keep making plays for us."
Beckham missed the season's first four games recovering from a hamstring injury, but has since caught 18 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, including two in Dallas on Oct. 19. With Victor Cruz out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, Beckham is the Giants' primary deep threat.
Beckham, a former star at LSU, continues to say he is a work in progress. Today, he was asked why.
"It is all those little things," he said, "the smaller details - cleaning up the top end of your routes, cleaning up your releases. Knowing what number you are on the play and knowing if you are the first look, second look or the third look and knowing how to work your technique. It is all things that come with experience. Being a young guy, I try to learn as much as I can as fast as I can to incorporate it into my game as fast as I can. Those are things that take time and it comes with experience."
The Seahawks also have the league's fourth-ranked rushing defense, one that could make life difficult for a Giants offense that has struggled to run the ball. But Beckham said that doesn't put more pressure on Manning and the receivers to carry the offense.
"I think we need to pass more efficiently and run more efficiently," Beckham said. "I think we need to eliminate a lot of the mistakes. I feel as if a lot of games that we lost, not to take away from any other team, but a lot of it has to do with our own inability to function as one unit. The little mistakes that we have made are things that, with a team like this, you can't make them. They have to be corrected and things have to get done right. I am looking forward to practice today and tomorrow and the rest of this week and getting prepared to play Seattle."
Beckham already has a personal game plan for facing Sherman.
"Keep attacking," he said. "I am never going to back down from anyone. He has some experience. He is a big, athletic guy that wants to press at the line. Those are all things he does well, so you have to try to find, as few as there are, you have to try and find those weaknesses that he has. At the end of the day, it is football. You have to go out and play football and give it your best. Whatever happens, happens."