Why Odell Beckham Jr., Duke Johnson Jr. Were Sidelined At Minicamp

ClevelandBrowns.com Odell Beckham Jr. speaks at Cleveland Browns minicamp on Wednesday.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Duke Johnson Jr. both missed the majority of offseason work with the Cleveland Browns until this week’s minicamp, where they have been full participants.

But on Thursday during the team’s final practice session, both OBJ and Johnson were missing from the team drills.

What gives?

“Everything’s OK with them,’’ Kitchens told the minicamp media. “We don’t play any games in the spring. I’m not being funny; it goes back to our voluntary issue. Even when they’re here and it’s mandatory, we’re going make sure that we take care of our players until they start counting.’’

Beckham — a human highlight reel — still showed off some of his skills during the day.

Both Beckham and Johnson faced scrutiny for missing the majority of OTAs (Johnson attended none, OBJ was at one).

Johnson missed the optional workouts after demanding a trade this offseason.

A third down specialist and lethal pass-catcher for the Browns, Johnson requested a trade after Kareem Hunt was picked up in the offseason.

Johnson maintained at minicamp that he wants out.

“My trade request was to meet them at a middle ground,” Johnson said.“I’m big on loyalty. I’ve been loyal through it all. The moment I don’t have loyalty … the moment that stops, it stops on both ends. It’s not a one way street.”

Head coach Freddie Kitchens has said multiple times since the request came out that there’s a role for Johnson on the team, especially with Hunt suspended for the first half of the season.

“He wants to be traded. I want to win the lottery. It doesn’t matter. He’s under contract,” Kitchens said. “He’s a Cleveland Brown he’s going to be used to the best of his ability in what benefits the team.”

Johnson also got an earful from his quarterback, Baker Mayfield.

“It’s not awkward. It’s self-inflicted,” Mayfield said. “I hope he does his job.”

“If someone wants to be here, they’ll be here,” Mayfield added. “You got guys in our locker room that are dying to get playing time and dying to be here. Duke has been here for years but it’s about what are you doing right now.”

A presence where he goes — or doesn’t go — Beckham expected the attention to be on his absences from OTAs. However, during his first session with the media on Wednesday OBJ said he and 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.”

The Browns have some time off before training camp begins in late July.