Not everyone was caught up in the star power of a head-to-head battle that was projected as one of the highlights of the Detroit Lions’ Rocket Mortgage training camp.
There was suitable billing for a marquee battle in the three days of combined practices between the New York Giants and Lions that began Tuesday.
Odell Beckham Jr., the electrifying Giants receiver, going against Lions Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay of the Lions is a dream matchup that could elevate the intensity level of camp.
Slay apparently did not read the press releases and hype.
As much as Slay respects Beckham, these practices represent another three days on the job to get ready for the regular season.
How much fun is it to go against an elite receiver like Beckham – like Slay did last week against Amari Cooper of the Raiders?
“I don’t know how to answer that,” said Slay, surrounded by media members after practice. “I don’t look at it as fun. It’s practice, really. We’re going to work.
“My whole job is to be better every day. No matter who’s out there, what color jersey, I’m just out there to get better.”
Slay covered Beckham one-on-one in position drills early in practice and again in the team drill later.
Beckham’s elite skills were obvious, but he didn’t break any big plays or make spectacular one-hand catches. The Giants are being somewhat cautious with him in camp in his return from a broken ankle that ended his 2017 season early. He has been practicing in camp but did not play in the first preseason game.
“He was out there practicing today,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s good. You watch him all summer here competing in practice. If he creates the same setting just against a different team, you’re just out there practicing. That’s what he did.”
Slay was asked how Beckham looked, and if he had his explosiveness back.
“I don’t pay any attention to how he looks,” Slay said. “He looks like he’s going. He’s catching the ball, running the route. He’s always explosive.
View photos from Day 13 of 2018 Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.
“He’s never going to lose that until he turns 50, I guess.”
He doesn’t worry about getting judged, or take any of the matchups personally, Slay said.
“That’s your whole life,” Slay said. “Everybody’s watching and judging everybody. That’s nothing new. We always get judged.
“I’m not really taking it personally. I take it as a high level of competitiveness.”
Teammate Nevin Lawson, who has started at right cornerback opposite Slay the last three seasons, didn’t feel an adrenalin surge from going against Beckham and his teammates.
“I go against good receivers every week when I line up against the guys on our team,” Lawson said. “They’re no different. We’ve got three of them.
“My adrenalin is raised when I go against Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate.”