Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell will have plenty on his mind as kickoff approaches and he gets his team ready for Monday night’s game against the Giants. There will be last-minute strategies to go over, injuries to assess, and the usual readying of his team.
So he won’t be taking any specific time from his schedule to gawk at what is sure to be the Greatest Pregame Show on Earth. But he did admit it will be hard to avert his eyes if he happens to stumble upon the spectacle.
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“If I’m out there and they start doing it,” Campbell said, “I probably will watch a little bit.”
He’s referring to the warm-up competition between Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry as the two engage in their legendary one-handed one-upsmanship for the first time on an NFL field. The former LSU teammates used to push each other in practices and games to make the most eye-popping, acrobatic grabs imaginable, and on Monday they seem to have a special show planned.
“We’ll get together earlier that day before pregame and we’ll put something together,” Landry said on Wednesday.
With them, a simple something is sure to be something else.
“I’ll tell you what,” Campbell said, “the ability those guys have, the hand-eye coordination, to be able to catch right-handed, left-handed, catch it backhanded, flip your hand backward to catch the ball, it’s pretty amazing what they’re capable of.”
The two close friends and second-year players have established themselves as two of the most exciting receivers in the NFL, but before that they were doing their dazzling on the practice fields in Baton Rouge. That’s where Beckham said he first started to actually practice the one-handed catches he now makes in games.
And according to Landry, he has yet to top what he was able to do in those workouts.
“I tell you what, there’s a tape that [running backs] Coach Frank Wilson at LSU has and I’ve been trying to get my hands on it, I had a copy, but I misplaced it,” Landry said. “There’s literally every catch that we’ve ever made. It’s called the ‘Freak Catch Tape.’ ”
Landry had trouble describing the best catch he ever saw Beckham make.
“I wouldn’t say it was behind his head, but behind his head basically,” he said. “It’s crazy to even really talk about it, it’s hard to even explain . . . It was from the 30-yard line going in, almost similar to the Dallas game, but way more freakier.”
Beckham was at a similar loss for words trying to recount Landry’s catches, recalling two against Arkansas in college in which he spun cornerbacks around.
“Words don’t really do it justice,” Beckham said. “It’s something you have to see, the things that he was doing catching the ball.”
The two first met at a 7-on-7 football camp in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as high school juniors and became immediate friends. They stayed in touch, stayed at each other’s homes, and eventually went to LSU together. They text, talk, or FaceTime just about every day. There is a genuine brotherhood between them.
“It’s not just typical receiver competitiveness where you’re really comparing the numbers as much as I just want to see him be the greatest receiver of all time,” Beckham said, “and I think it’s the same for me. We’re going to push each other to be the best as we possibly can. I have been so happy just to be able to see all the hard work and things that we were doing just pay off in the past couple of years.”
Beckham may be better known for the one-handed catches now, but it was Landry who started him thinking about it.
“It’s something that I was just so fascinated by, somebody who wanted to think outside the box, to think about things that could happen and put yourself in those situations,” Beckham said. “We worked on it, I wouldn’t say every day, but there was no point in time if we had a football in our hand that we weren’t throwing back and forth trying to catch with one hand. It definitely has come a long way since we first started.”
Of course, the anticipated pregame show eventually will end and be followed by the actual game. You know, the Giants against the Dolphins.
They may even be pulling for each other — slightly — on Monday night.
“I can’t say that out loud,” Beckham said when asked if he will be rooting for Landry. “I hope [the Giants defensive backs] do a great job at containing or doing whatever they need to do, but at the same time, I always love seeing him succeed.”
Landry feels the same.
“It’s actually the first time taking the field on opposite sides,” he said. “I’m his biggest fan on the opposite sideline. At the same time, as much success that I want him to have, I just hope we get the W.”