IRVING - The Cowboys have nothing but praise and respect for second-year receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. Coach Jason Garrett referred to the 2014 first-rounder as "a damn good football player” in one of his daily pressers, and the Dallas gameplan surely is focused on stalling NY’s top weapon.
"He's a really good route runner," Garrett said. "He obviously can make a lot of plays both down the field and make plays over his head like we've all seen. He's dynamic with the ball in his hands running with it after he makes the catch and he's just one of those guys who seems to be really productive, including the quarterback who likes to throw it to him and he's come through a lot over the course of his short career. To have the production he had over the course of 12 games last year was pretty impressive.”
Ah, but it’s the production in one game that everybody wants to talk about. And they want to talk about it with Brandon Carr, the Dallas cornerback who back in November was on the butt end of one of the sport’s most spectacular catches.
“What do you do when you are afraid of the dark?’’ Carr said on Tuesday, colorfully explaining how he isn’t shying away from the realities of OBJ’s one-handed highlight. “Do you run from it? Or just one say do you close the door, turn the lights off and go to sleep?’'
A day later, some New York media members showed up at Valley Ranch to pepper Carr with the same sort of questions. Only then did he tired of them a bit.
You’re pissing me off with these questions,’’ Carr finally answered, taking enough of the New York Post’s bait to end up the center of this “controversial’’ story in the tabloid, headlined, Don’t ask ‘pissed off’ Cowboys about Odell Beckham’s catch.''
Actually, you can ask him. But it’s maybe the millionth-straight query that finally elicits a prickly response.
Contending with the New York media, of course, is nothing compared to actually contending with OBJ. The Cowboys are all-too familiar with Beckham's impressive skills. That one-handed catch for a touchdown that became a highlight spectacular was after Beckham's debut against the Cowboys in October where he caught four passes for 34 yards and two touchdowns. Beckham finished the year with 91 catches, 1,305 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Some liken Beckham's playmaking ability to that of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, but third-year Dallas safety JJ Wilcox still sees the two NFC East pass-catchers on different levels.
"You got to understand Dez has been doing this for five to six years," Wilcox said. "This guy just came in one year, but he's a great player at what he does at his position. So, I don't want to compare the two, because Dez has been doing this for years.
"It's different levels between a tight end like Jimmy Graham and a guy like Jason Witten. Jason Witten has a little bit more on him because he's been doing it longer. So, it's the same thing with those two. They're both great at their position and both of them make great plays."
For Wilcox, Beckham is part of a good receiving corps that includes Victory Cruz and Rueben Randle, who are led by a two-time-title-winning signal-caller in Eli Manning.
"They got some good wide receiving corps,’’ said JJ, though it’s worth noting that Cruz may not play due to injury. "They’re going to be hard to stop. When Eli is rolling, he's rolling. They got two Super Bowls. So, he's a great player too. So, you can't forget about him. It's going to be a great test for us first game, and I can't wait to go out there."
Beckham is currently on a three-game streak of having at least 100 yards against NFC East opponents. The start of that run was his 10-catch, 146-yard, two-touchdown performance against Dallas in their last meeting.
Carr and his cornerback mates Mo Claiborne and Tyler Patmon would like to stop the streak … by being able to close the door, turn the lights off and, after a Sunday night victory, go to sleep.