Browns Notes: Odell Beckham Jr. returns to team drills

TE David Njoku also returns, Baker Mayfield included in SNF open

Daryl Ruiter
August 26, 2019 - 2:26 pm
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Odell Beckham Jr. returned to team drills for the first time in nearly three weeks Monday.

Beckham had been limited due to a minor hip injury in recent weeks to individual and positional drills.

“He looked good,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said. “It’s good to have him back out. We’ve been working on the side with him with other things. It’s just natural progression. So it was good to have him back.”

With the starters set to get Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Lions off, Kitchens is using practice Monday and Tuesday to get his offense back on track following a disappointing performance at Tampa Bay last Friday night.

One thing Kitchens isn’t concerned about is Beckham and quarterback Baker Mayfield needing to catch up to get on the same page.

“They’ve been working through the whole camp as it is,” Kitchens said. “Just because he wasn’t in team drills doesn’t mean they weren’t working.

“It’s fairly easy, you learn where to line up, learn what to do, learn the depth and the area you’re supposed to be in, and you’ve got it just about figured out. I think he’s a smart guy and he’s coming along.”

As expected, Beckham along with Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins served as the top three receivers during practice Monday.

Kitchens tried to use the trip to Tampa Bay that saw Mayfield throw 26 times to evaluate the remaining receivers who are battling for the final three roster spots.  

As for Beckham specifically, Kitchens is taking it slow.

“We don’t want to overwork him right now,” Kitchens said. “We haven’t started playing yet. We haven’t even gotten into game-planning and stuff like that. But they’ll definitely be on top of their game when we start game-planning and timing and stuff like that.”

Njoku returns too – Tight end David Njoku also returned to team drills after being limited to individual work for the last week.

Njoku had stitches in the back of his head and wasn’t allowed to wear a helmet so he went through drills without one.

Tough night – Friday night was frustrating for the entire offense, but especially the offensive line.

“I think we got outside of our technique and fundamentals a few too many times,” center JC Tretter said, offering a candid assessment of what went wrong against the Buccaneers.

“Everybody came in understanding that wasn’t what we needed to do to win so we were all very critical of ourselves, it didn’t need to come from the coaching staff. We all knew it as a group and to a man that wasn’t good enough for what we put on film.”

The Browns generated just 75 net yards of offense and had to settle for three field goals despite their average drive start being their own 43 but the pressure that Mayfield dealt with in the first half was hard to miss.

“I think a lot of it is just getting outside of your fundamentals, getting outside of your technique and things go poorly,” Tretter said. “That is the tough thing about offensive line play is if one guy makes a mistake, it kind of makes everything look bad so I think all of us had one or two plays that we wish we had back. That kind of makes everything look a little sloppy.”

Between the joint practices and preseason game with the Colts and trip to Tampa, the Browns spent seven of 11 days on the road but Tretter made no excuses.

“That is football. There are going to be rough stretches,” Tretter said. “You are going to go from a Sunday to a Thursday game and that is the stuff you face. You have to be able to fight through adversity, and that is really not an excuse you can really hang your hat on and think that is OK. We have to do a better job as a unit, the offensive line especially, of going out there and playing better and go out there and protect the quarterback and be able to protect the football.”

Sunday Night star – Mayfield is among 13 NFL players featured in NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football open featuring Carrie Underwood marking the first time a Browns player is included in the production in 14 years.

This year’s open, which was filmed inside Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, also features Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett.

The Browns will host the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams Sept. 22 on Sunday Night Football. That night Clay Matthews Jr., father of Rams linebacker Clay Matthews III, will be placed into the Ring of Honor during a special halftime ceremony.

Not Strong enough – Jaelen Strong had an inconsistent camp, but he didn’t even make it to the preseason finale.

Strong was cut Monday night, a move announced by Strong on his Twitter account.

“Cleveland, thank you. Always gone have a place in my heart. I gave y’all my All everyday I promise you that. God got me”

The former 2015 third-round pick of the Houston Texans had seven catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.

Notable quotable – “My patented move is the soupbone. You know what that is? Does anybody in here know what a soupbone is? It is when you come off the top rope and elbow them right on top of the head.” – Kitchens on if he had a move he could show wrestler Steve Austin

Roster move – The Browns waived cornerback Jhavonte Dean Monday, freeing up a roster spot for a potential claim.

Injury report – WR Antonio Callaway (ankle), LB Sione Takitaki (hamstring), G Kyle Kalis (concussion), FB Joe Kerridge (concussion) did not practice.

Up next – Practice Tuesday morning.