Odell Beckham Jr. was back at practice Tuesday a day after feeling ill. But that wasn’t the main story surrounding Beckham’s return to practice.
The story is Beckham’s noticeable work ethic that is winning over his new teammates and coaching staff, particularly Adam Henry, Beckham’s longtime wide receivers coach. Beckham, who was mostly the X receiver during his time with the New York Giants, is learning all three receiving positions with the Browns.
“He seems very comfortable,” said Henry, Beckham’s receivers coach at LSU and with the Giants during the 2016 and ’17 seasons, per the Akron Beacon Journal. “He seems very relaxed being in Cleveland. The city of Cleveland really has embraced him, and so I just see him in a different place, where he’s comfortable with the players, he’s comfortable with Baker and Coach [Freddie] Kitchens.”
Beckham recently explained the advantages that come with being able to line up at various receiving positions.
“Once you allow everybody to move from different positions, it’s harder for a defense to game plan,” he said. “It’s harder if Jarvis goes outside or he goes to the single-side receiver, or [Rashard] Hig[gins, Antonio] Callaway or any of these other receivers switch or go inside, I go inside, I go outside, line up in the backfield. It just makes it harder [for the defense] to game plan. If you have a receiver who lines up left or goes right, it’s a lot easier to game plan.”
Along with working hard to learn multiple receiving positions, Beckham is also working hard to strengthen his rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose direct — and sometimes explicit — leadership style may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is apparently fine with Beckham, who — along with Cleveland’s fellow receivers — was the subject of Mayfield’s “constructive criticism” earlier in camp. Mayfield yelled at his receivers to “work the [expletive] scramble drill.”
“That’s a good thing for [Mayfield] to do,” Henry said when asked about that situation. “The receivers don’t take anything [personally], and they know what type of leader he is. They know what type of quarterback he is, and that’s no problem.”
Beckham himself said recently thatwith the Browns’ second year quarterback has helped speed up their growth.
“If we didn’t like something or if I did something wrong, I go ask him,” Beckham said. “If he wants me to run a different way, we just say that and we just keep going. There’s no egos or nothing here. We’re both competitive people that want to win. When you got a guy like that, you never wanna let him down. So just finding ways to get better, really.”
Beckham chuckled when asked following a recent practice if he tells Mayfield where he likes the ball to be on passing routes.
“Just tell him to do what he does,” he said. “There’s a reason he was the first pick. There’s a reason he won the Heisman. There’s a reason he led Oklahoma to all those great seasons. I just let him tell me what he thinks I should do and I’m just gonna do that, and he’s gonna put it where it needs to be.”
While it’s clear that Beckham trusts and respects Mayfield, it’s also clear that Beckham has brought a blue-collar mentality with him to a city that prides itself on hard work.
“Everything that’s great comes with patience [and] takes time,” he said following a recent practice. “So, we’re still developing. The best part about it is [that] it’s training camp. It’s not the real season right now, so we’re just trying to all get on the same page, get everything down. But it’s been a lot of fun … Just trying to get better every day.”