Buffalo Bills cornerback Ron Brooks had a firsthand look at New York Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. when they played together in college at Louisiana State University. Brooks admits Beckham Jr. is a more polished player today.
"He's doing a lot better job than he was in college than the press standpoint, and coverage recognition, and things like that," Brooks said. "Knowing him from college and seeing where he's at now, he's taken mighty strides."
Despite massive improvement out of the Madden Football cover star, Brooks still feels the two years he played alongside Beckham Jr. provide his defense an advantage on Sunday.
"I can bring my knowledge of what I know from college and being around [Beckham] back then and seeing how [he's] progressed now. [I can give] my guys tips that I know or things that I've seen or noticed that can help out with how they run routes or their releases or things that they do and don't like versus certain coverages. I think that gives us an advantage on our side of the ball, and we're going to try to use it."
Brooks also played with Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle at LSU for three years. Randle, who has earned significant playing time in the absence of fellow wide out Victor Cruz, ripped off 116 yards and scored one touchdown on seven receptions in the Giants Week Two, Thursday Night victory over the Washington Redskins.
Cruz, meanwhile, was scheduled to return in time to face the Bills this weekend, but aggravated his calf in practice on Wednesday. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin ruled him out for Sunday's game.
Still, Bills head coach Rex Ryan knows his team will face a significant battle from the Giants pass attack.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us. There's no question about it," said Ryan.
While Ryan respects what New York's passing game is capable of he is sure his players will be ready to go.
"[Rex tells us to] just play as a Bill. Just play the Buffalo Bills way. Just go out there and line up right and communicate and be physical and make plays," said safety Bacarri Rambo.
Rambo, Brooks, and the rest of the secondary know that while the Giants have talent, the Bills have defensive abilities of their own.
"They have a lot of weapons, but just the same, we're a team, and we have just as many weapons on defense as they have on offense, and we're just as deep as anybody in the NFL. They're talent [is] what they have and that's really good for them, but I'm not worried about it with my group that I have," Brooks said.
The Bills defense has shown the ability to shut down the opposing pass attack no matter its skill level. In Week One, they held Andrew Luck and the prolific Indianapolis Colts offense to 240 yards through the air. They also intercepted Luck twice, and kept the Colts out of the end zone until the final minute of the third quarter.
Things changed in Week Two, though, when Tom Brady passed for 466 and led the Patriots to 40 points. The pass defense did bounce back last week, hitting Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill eight times and recording three interceptions, two by AFC Defensive Player of the Week Preston Brown.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has plenty of respect for the secondary he will be going up against on Sunday.
"They do a good job in their coverage," he said. "A lot of times they're put in a lot of man-to-man situations, and they do a good job not giving any easy completions. I think they do a good job. They play hard and they make a lot of plays."
Manning's comments echoed the defensive backfield's attitude throughout the week, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore is certain that the unit will continue to make plays against the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.
"I'm very confident [in our secondary] because I know who we go against every day in practice and in training camp," he said. "I feel like if we play our game and play physical, we'll come out on top."
If Gilmore is right, then the Bills would start a season 3-1 for the first time since 2011.