Cleveland Browns Head Coach Freddie Kitchens joked that the first thing he would say to the newly-acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. is that he loved him. I don’t know whether or not he actually ended up doing that, but either way, Kitchens hasn’t seen much of the All-Pro since he was in for a press conference months ago.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that generally applies to situations in which the absence is mutually understood. In this case, Beckham decided to skip all 10 of the Browns’ OTA practices under Kitchens in his first season as head coach for reasons that he has not made clear, and possibly won’t.
As the weeks grew by, Kitchens’ answers in relation to his new wide receiver evolved and became more terse, less understanding. Last week, when he was asked what Beckham was missing by not being at OTAs, he said that he was missing “the offense”.
Cleveland begins its mandatory minicamp tomorrow. Would Beckham dare not show up for that? While he hasn’t made anything official, he did indicate on social media that it was his intention to report. A fan made a comment on an Instagram post of his telling him to “cut out the crap and get to camp”. He said he would be there.
The Browns are rebuilding their new offense, which has changed drastically in a year’s time. Baker Mayfield was not the starter at the time. play-caller and now head coach Kitchens was just working with the running backs before he took over as offensive coordinator mid-season. Todd Monken was brought in this offseason as offensive coordinator as well.
That group spent OTAs installing the new offense, which Beckham missed. Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, their number two and three wide receivers, were also not on the field for many of these practices, sidelined by injuries, but they were at least present.
Back during that press conference, in which he wondered reflectively if they were appreciating the potential gravity of the moment—introducing the stars of a new-look Browns team that people think might finally be decent. “I want to set the tone”, he said.
“I don’t know exactly my offseason plans”, he added. “I usually train in L.A., but I definitely want to be here and create that bond, that relationship with my new teammates, coaches and everybody so that they can kind of see who I am exactly”.
As I noted previously, Beckham was in attendance for the majority of the New York Giants’ OTAs last season. He was also angling for a new contract at the time and wanted to play the good soldier. He was rewarded in August. Then traded in March.