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Tom Coughlin's advice to Odell Beckham Jr.: Don't send wrong message with celebrations

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants talks with Odell Beckham Jr. on the field during warm-ups before their game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 14, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Getty Images / Jeff Zelevansky

It's no longer a rookie thing. Odell Beckham Jr. has blown past that designation. Now the Giants receiver is starting to play in the statistical stratosphere of some of the all-time greats.

A case easily could be made that Beckham is enjoying the greatest prolonged streak of play by any receiver in NFL history. He has had eight straight games with at least 90 receiving yards, one shy of Michael Irvin's record set in 1995. But when you put those numbers side by side, Beckham has been more productive than even the guy whose nickname was "Playmaker.'' He's had more receptions (69 to Irvin's 66) and, despite having one fewer game than Irvin's streak, trails him by only nine receiving yards during their runs.

In those last eight games, Beckham has racked up 1,014 receiving yards. That's only half a season. If he were able to maintain that pace for an entire year -- and he's given us no reason to think he can't -- he would blow past the single-season record of 1,964 set by Calvin Johnson two years ago and become the first player to eclipse 2,000.

Yet that "R'' still lingers next to his name on the roster. He's still played only 11 career games.

It's safe to say that Tom Coughlin, who was a receivers coach long before he was a head coach, has never seen a player like this. Because no one has.

Unlike everyone else, though, Coughlin can't just sit back and watch. He has to coach Beckham. Push him. Mold him and tailor him. How does he do that?

Very carefully.

You don't want to miss a brush stroke early on when you could be painting the Mona Lisa of wide receivers. But Coughlin has a lifetime of knowledge to impart. Fortunately, Beckham seems very open to it.

When the team was boarding the plane home Sunday night from St. Louis, Coughlin pulled Beckham aside and spoke to him about what had transpired in the win over the Rams -- the taunting penalty for his TD celebration, the series of hard hits the Rams tried to levy against him, and the brawl that ensued when he was hit out of bounds.

"I was interested in continuing to talk to him about it and why I wanted him to learn as much as he possibly could and for me to help him because I want everyone to realize the quality of the young man, and not be offset by some of the things that he has done," Coughlin said in his conference call Monday. "He looked at me and said, 'Coach, stay after me.' He wants to learn and he wants to continue to improve and be better. I think he will and I think as he understands the professional game, that he will understand that some of the things that take place give the wrong message or send the wrong message."

Coughlin said he did not have a problem with Beckham's spinning of the ball after his first touchdown, other than the fact that it drew a 15-yard flag. "The officials had probably talked about that and they were waiting," Coughlin said.

He also said he does not want to dampen any of the enthusiasm that has helped make Beckham so great so quickly.

But he needs Beckham to stay healthy and to avoid penalties, and if he continues to draw the ire of opponents and officials, that could become a difficult proposition. He needs Beckham to stay grounded and focused.

"Every time Odell plays, he learns more about the National Football League," Coughlin said. "This young man wants to be everything he possibly can be and he is not afraid to recognize the fact that he doesn't have all the answers. He wants to put himself in a position where he can learn as fast as he can. That is exactly what our role is. I look at this, I'm a teacher and I can bring a wealth of experience to a young player like this and try to be in a position where I can help him go avoid some of the potholes, if you will, that occur for young guys."

It's not insane to start thinking that Beckham has a chance to become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. He certainly is off to a fine start. If he does, he'll have Coughlin's fingerprints all over him.

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