MIAMI — Standing on opposite sidelines for a change Monday night, close friends Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will root for — and try to top — each other.
The likely winner? Fans of acrobatic receivers.
Friendly competition between the former LSU teammates will involve keeping score for the first time, with Beckham and the New York Giants playing Landry and the Miami Dolphins.
“This game has been marked on the schedule for a long time,” Beckham said Wednesday. “It finally being here is so surreal.”
Both teams are 5-7, so the best reason to watch might be the rival receivers. Even their pregame warmup, when Beckham and Landry practice one-handed catches, should be entertaining.
“It’s a bond that goes way beyond the game,” Landry said. “His success means everything to me, as mine is to him. I want him to have the game of his life, but I want to win the game.”
Beckham, a former Newman star, will be rooting for Landry, a former Lutcher star, not that anyone will be able to see it.
“I can’t say that out loud,” Beckham said, “but I always want to see him do well.”
They’ve been friends since they were juniors at different Louisiana high schools, and played together for three seasons at LSU, where they became the most prolific receiving tandem in school history.
Beckham was drafted 12th overall by the Giants in 2014, and Landry was taken in the second round the same year by Miami. Now they’re two of the NFL’s best receivers.
“Week in and week out we always put the pressure on each other to make plays,” Landry said. “We feed off of each other so much.”
The season has been vexing for both because of the way their teams have struggled. Landry’s frustration boiled over Sunday as Miami’s offense sputtered during an ugly win over Baltimore, and at one point he threw a sideline fit — and his helmet.
“We had like four or five drives where we barely moved the ball,” Landry said. “It was just trying to get guys fired up, trying to get guys a little more into the game, playing with a little more energy. And we got the W, so I think it worked.”
He and Beckham talk and text virtually every day and say they’re like brothers. They’re both 5-11, and with their soft Louisiana accents, they sound alike. When the Giants arrive at their south Florida hotel this weekend, Landry said he’ll be there to pick up Beckham and take him to dinner.
They’re so close, they have the same number of receptions — 78, to tie for sixth in the league. Beckham ranks fourth with 1,154 yards, and is tied for second with 10 touchdown catches.
Landry has the edge in versatility. He’s one of two players with at least 100 yards on rushing (107), receiving (821), kickoff returns (255) and punt returns (252). He has even completed a pass.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin sees similarities in the duo.
“There’s a definite flair,” he said.
Both have a knack at eye-popping catches, particularly one-handers.
“It started back in college,” Beckham said. “Jarvis came in as the No. 1 receiver. It was something he had taken to another level, and it was something I was so fascinated by, to think outside the box about things that could happen. We worked on it, and it has come a long way.”
An LSU assistant coach assembled a video collage of the duo’s most acrobatic efforts titled “The Freak Catch Tape.” But Beckham’s best catch isn’t on it, Landry said, because it took place in practice.
“The most amazing catch that I’ve ever seen him make was — I wouldn’t say it was behind his head, but — behind his head, basically,” said Landry, struggling for words. “It’s crazy to even really talk about it.”
Beckham said he remembers that reception, and quickly adds that some of Landry’s craziest catches have been tough to describe, too. Good thing there will be plenty of cameras at the stadium to document their performance Monday night.