Bears cornerback Tracy Porter considers himself kind of boring, not a lot of flash, not a lot of smack. And that might be the ideal persona to create an intriguing fire-and-ice matchup Sunday when the Bears face the New York Giants.
Porter is expected to spend a lot of his afternoon dealing with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the colorful centerpiece of the New York offense, he of legendarily athletic pass receptions.
Beckham also is one of the NFL’s most volatile on-field personalities, to the point of quarterback Eli Manning at one point publicly declaring that Beckham was in need of tempering his outbursts, which were creating penalties. Beckham is just outside the top 10 in receptions with 54, tied for fourth with 6 TD catches and eighth in yards per game (85.9).
But his behavior is as explosive as his play, albeit not as bad this season as past (one unsportsmanlike conduct, one taunting; a $36,000 fine for a blindside block on Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, one of three fines in 2016). Which creates an opportunity for opponents:
Try baiting him into misbehaving? Or leave him alone, as in, don’t tug on Superman’s cape and make him constructively infuriated?
Porter isn’t having any of it. Not because of the risks or futility, but because, well, he’s just not that kinda guy.
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“I'm not one to fall into those types of things,” said Porter, the acknowledged veteran leader of the secondary. “I don't know what his deal is or why he likes it. That's just a part of his game.
“Me, we're sitting at 2-7 right now. There's no point in me to get overly hyped about what antics he's going to bring to the game. I just have to cover him, do my job and then do whatever I can to come out with a victory… .
“I may be one of the boring guys. I'm like, what's the point? I come out here to just do my job and help my team win. I may talk to guys here or there on the field. I'm not about to get into any personal battles and go back and forth with the guys. It doesn't even make sense to me, to be honest.”
The problem for the Bears is that Beckham is not simply a hothead who loses control.
“This guy's a different guy,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “[Tampa Bay’s Mike] Evans is a big, speed guy. This guy is speed, quickness and route running. This guy plays bigger than his size numbers, too, because of his leaping ability, his length, hands. He's got big hands, really good hands. He's a different type of assignment.”
Beckham also is one of the NFL’s best not only at getting the football into his hands, but doing things after he has it. He is 11th in yards after catch and has nine receptions of 20 yards or longer this season.
“Once he gets the ball in his hands, he's a great athlete,” Porter said. “We just definitely have to be mindful of it and do what we can and play sound football and not let him get those explosive plays.”