WESTFIELD, INDIANA — Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is confident his superstar talent and work behind the scenes will allow him to overcome the opportunities he’s missing to develop chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Dealing with a hip injury, Beckham sat out one-on-one, seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills Thursday in the second and final joint practice the Browns held with the Indianapolis Colts at Grand Park Sports Campus.
He hasn’t participated in a team drill during a padded training camp practice since Aug. 6, and he’s expected to rest Saturday when the Browns and Colts face each other in preseason game No. 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Still, Beckham isn’t panicking about running out of time to get on the same page with his new quarterback before the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.
“We talk every day,” Beckham, who was traded from the New York Giants to the Browns in March, said Thursday after the 16th practice of camp. “We talk football. We talk about just the little ins and outs of football. Even when I’m watching him make other throws, I’m still coming to ask him what is it that you’re seeing.
“So it’s not something I’m worried about. It’s two competitive, fiery people, just the way that he is, I don’t want to let him down. So I’m going to do everything in my power to be exactly where I need to be when I need to be there, and as I’ve seen already, he’s going to deliver that ball.”
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens isn’t fretting about Beckham lacking a connection with Mayfield, either.
“I’m not worried about Odell at all,” Kitchens said. “He’ll be ready to go mentally and physically. He’ll be ready to go.”
Beckham joked he could “maybe go to the movies” with Mayfield to strengthen their bond. In all seriousness, though, they have spent a significant amount of time together this year despite Beckham skipping almost all of the Browns’ voluntary offseason workout program.
“I was around him a lot during the offseason,” Beckham said. “We would go out to eat. We would do all that. But to be able to see him in his element in football, I love the leader he is. I love his attitude, his swagger. I love all that about him. It’s what made him, him.
“I had heard something [Kitchens] said: [Mayfield is] one of those people who had been told no all his life, so he wants to show you yes. It’s similar for me, so I understand him. That’s why I say I don’t really want to let him down. He’s somebody who’s worked to get to where they’re at and who was doubted pretty much all their life, so I understand him. I get him.”
Beckham understands his body, too, so he’s not concerned about his hip. He downplayed the injury by saying “it’s nothing.” He also nodded when a reporter asked him if he would play through the injury if it were the regular season instead of the preseason.
“I feel good — feel great,” he said. “It’s just preseason. There’s no point in trying to push anything right now. We play Sept. 8, so that’s all you really get ready for.”
Beckham said the Browns are simply playing it safe and preventing him from exacerbating his injury.
“That’s the reason why they have the plan that they have for me because I would just push, you know?” Beckham said. “And even in the past, I would just push. It’s the only thing I know.
“I’m too competitive to be out here and not go 110 [percent]. I don’t know any other way. But I also don’t like being out here and not being able to go. So it’s tough, but you just trust their plan. It’s really all I can do.”
Neither Beckham nor Kitchens would disclose whether the plan is for him to sit out the entire preseason. Beckham hasn’t played in an exhibition game since Aug. 21, 2017, when, as a member of the Giants, he suffered a high-ankle sprain as a result of former Browns defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun hitting him low at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Beckham made it clear he believes a four-game preseason is too long, but he stopped short of saying it should be eliminated altogether.
“It’s tough because there are guys who are going to make the team by what they do in preseason, and you’re going to be able to see what type of team you have through preseason,” he said. “But it’s long.
“It is a long season to have four preseason games, 16 regular season. If you’re going to the Super Bowl, four more games. That’s 24 games. That’s a lot of games. I think there is purpose. I don’t know if you can find a way. I don’t know if you cut it down a game. I don’t know what you do, but it’s just a tough situation.”
Beckham is confident the Browns will be a force to be reckoned with when the games actually count. He considered them triumphant in their practices with the Colts.
“I’m excited for the direction we’re moving in,” he said. “I can see it. I can feel it from you guys [in the media]. I can feel it from the fans. I can feel it from this team. They’re excited about this season. First time being in the stadium, I can feel that energy. I told you I’m an empath. I can really feel that. So I know that they’re ready. I know we’re going to be ready when it’s time.
“I can see it just from being out here, and just thinking about when everybody gets in, how scary it’s going to be. But I’m looking at now, and whoever’s out on that field is going to be scary. It’s always been a next-man-up-mentality, so whoever’s out there, I just think we’re in a very good position.”
The Browns will be in an even better position when Beckham is back in full force.