OBJ & OTAs: Turns Out It Didn’t Matter One Bit For the Cleveland Browns

Getty Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

There were columns written. There was outrage on the internet. There was even laughter at some points.

But as it turns out, the Odell Beckham Jr. not attending optional OTAs storyline was a whole lot of nothing.

Sure, the Browns would have loved if their new No. 1 wide receiver was at every workout this offseason, attentively going through the motions of padless, half-speed practice like he was an undrafted free agent.

It would have prevented head coach Freddie Kitchens from having to answer questions on the topic daily; it would have allowed the players who were actually in attendance to get some recognition; and it would have kept the spotlight off a player who is already a target for criticism from the media.

But guess what.

Just hours into the first practice of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, Odell Beckham Jr. was doing Odell Beckham Jr. things and all was forgiven.

Kitchens, a few days removed from sounding fed up about the situation — saying the WR had missed “a lot” by skipping all but one OTA — relieved any tension while talking to reporters at minicamp.

“Odell looked good – moved around good, in good shape, picking up the offense. [OTAs were] voluntary guys – it’s voluntary,” Kitchens said. “You guys take comments that I made last week and turned it into something other than what the comment actually meant.

“I was looking forward to seeing Odell. I truly was. He missed a lot – he understands that – but he did not miss as much as you really think because he has been studying every night just like these other guys; he just had not been here. He felt it was more compatible for his body to get in good shape and be at the best that he can be when he got here. Would I have like him here? Yes. No doubt about it. I want everybody here, but he does not have to be here. It is voluntary.”

Jarvis Landry — Beckham’s LSU teammate — echoed his coach’s sentiments

“Obviously he wanted to be here,’’ Landry said. “He just was taking his time to make sure that his body was right and now he’s here. We’re all happy to see him.’’

Baker Mayfield didn’t sound too worried, either.

“A professional’s going to be a professional,’’ he said. “He’s going to train how he wants to. That’s an elite athlete. It’s how he does his stuff, and you’ve got to believe and trust in that. you’ve got to trust him to be able to show up when he needs to and be there for his team and I just know and that’s the type of guy he is. He’s going to be here when he needs to.’’

The Browns gave up a first and third round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers to land OBJ from the New York Giants. That’s a lot, but could still be considered a steal if he plays up to his All-Pro potential.

Beckham has a shorter leash than most because of his past, which has featured everything from fighting kicking nets to staging pre-playoff boat parties.

But if really wants to turn the Browns into “the New Patriots” all the distractions need to be kept to a minimum. If OBJ can do that, his talent will take care of the rest.

Beckham is expected to speak with the media for the first time on Wednesday at minicamp.