It was a packed house at Cleveland Browns minicamp on Wednesday as Odell Beckham Jr. got behind the microphone for his first session with the media after practice.
The Browns new wide receiver, who was brought over from the Giants via a blockbuster trade in the offseason, spoke on everything from his offseason schedule, to his new quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Browns sky-high expectations.
“I still feel like the new kid at school,” he said. “‘I’m giddy. I feel like a little kid.”
Beckham understands that with the collection of talent in Cleveland this season, the expectation are through the roof — something that hasn’t been the case for the Browns in a long time.
“I just see the potential of this team,” Beckham said. “But we’ve got to put the work in. I feel something in the air, something special that Cleveland hasn’t had in awhile and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
A storyline this season has been Beckham being scarce around the Browns offseason activities. But OBJ told reporters that he and head coach Freddie Kitchens were on the same page.
“I know my body better than anyone else. I know what it takes to get in top condition. It’s not my first rodeo. Not my first go-round. I know what it takes to get there,” he said. “(Coach Freddie Kitchens) and I had a different plan than everyone else knows. He knew my whereabouts and he knew when I’d be here . . . The good thing about it is we play in September.”
In what might have been a ricochet shot at his old quarterback Eli Manning, Beckham said the speed that Mayfield throws at has been a big adjustment.
“I’ve watched Baker since Oklahoma … he’s got an arm,” Beckham said. “I have to get adjusted to the speed”
OBJ said he has got used to his statements being overanalyzed and he’s just trying to do his best to get better every day.
“I feel like I could sit in the corner in a room full of people and they’ll be like what, you’re not good enough to sit with the rest of us?,” Beckham said. “It’s just something I’ve gotten used to.”
Before Beckham spoke, head coach Freddie Kitchens gave his opinion of his No. 1 WR’s progress at minicamp.
“Odell is a bright guy,” Kitchens told reporters. “He’s smart and it’s not like this is the first time he’s opened up our book. He’s making process just like everybody else. He had some good plays and he had some bad plays.
“I think he’s on course for what he should be doing,” he added. “Odell doesn’t have a magic wand. He’s going to come out and he’s going to work as hard as anybody.”
Kitchens has had a few moments this offseason while discussing OBJ’s absences from OTAs where he seemed frustrated (at least with the constant flow of questions about it.)
But the first-year skipper told reporters that he and Beckham have a great working relationship.
“I think he trusts and respects me and I trust and respect him,” Kitchens said. “We have one thing in common — we don’t listen to the outside noise.”
Beckham made some plays on the second day of camp, which was held indoors in Berea.
If there were any worries about how OBJ was keeping himself in shape, he has answered them in a hurry. Beckham showed off some of the skills that make him a threat to be the No. 1 wide receiver in all of football — including his patented one-handed grab.
He also had a nice battle with Pro Bowl corner Denzel Ward.
On the first day of camp, OBJ’s incredible footwork, explosive ability and dynamic route running ability was on display all afternoon. He even caught a touchdown pass from his new QB.
“Odell looked good – moved around good, in good shape, picking up the offense,” Kitchens said.
The highlight clip of the day was OBJ roasting Browns DB T.J. Carrie, who simply had no chance on this play.
Kitchens has maintained that Beckham missed “a lot” by attending only one of nine of the Browns OTAs, but doesn’t think learning the offense will be a problem.
“He didn’t really miss as much as you really think because he’s been studying every night just like these other guys,” Kitchens said. “He just hasn’t been here … He felt it more compatible for his body to get in good shape and be at the best he could be when he got here. Would I have like him here? Yes. No doubt. I want everybody here. But he didn’t have to be here, it’s voluntary.’’
It’s not just Beckham that’s learning a new offense. The Browns are installing a new system this offseason under the direction of coordinator Todd Monken, who came over from Tampa Bay. While with the Bucs, Monken helped build the best passing offense in the league.
Kitchens will still call the plays, but Monken’s offense philosophy sounds like something Beckham can get behind.
“I like having fun. I don’t know why it has to feel like such drudgery all the time,” Monken said. “Who needs more 5-yard plays? How can we be explosive? That’s what the game is about, man. People like big plays. I like big plays.”