Sunday could not have got started worse for the Cleveland Browns offense, with Baker Mayfield throwing yet another interception on his first pass of the game and Odell Beckham Jr. getting injured while trying to make a tackle.
Beckham laid on the turf for some time before being taken directly to the locker room by trainers.
Beckham was diagnosed with a knee injury and would not return to the game.
The injury left the Browns with just three wide receivers suited up — Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones. Landry has been dealing with a broken rib he suffered two weeks ago.
Beckham has been healthy this season, but dealt with injuries almost all of last year. He had offseason surgery, which made him bullish for this season.
“I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons — bigger, stronger, faster,” Beckham said in a video this offseason documenting his rehab. “This my time.”
The fact that Beckham was ruled out says something about the severity. Beckham spoke this week about his passion for the game and wanting to win. He was taken out in the fourth quarter last week against the Steelers in a blowout loss.
“If I am not going to play and I am not going to stand there with cleats on the sideline and my toe be jammed in there,” Beckham explained. “At the same time, I never want to come out of a game. Win or lose, I do not care if we are up 50 or down 50, I do not ever want to come out of the game. That is always going to be my mentality.”
Browns Without Key Offensive Pieces
The Browns are also without starting tight end Austin Hooper, who had surgery for appendicitis this week.
Hooper caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns to land his second consecutive Pro Bowl invitation last season. Hopper has caught 22 balls for 205 yards and one touchdown, recording five receptions in each of the last three games.
With Hooper out, there were expected to be more opportunities for former starting tight end David Njoku, who has plummeted to third on the depth chart and asked for a trade before the deadline on Nov. 3. The reason for his trade request was mostly so he could get on the field more and showcase his abilities as a pass-catcher.
Njoku had one target early on, but it was rookie Harrison Bryant caught a touchdown to tie the game at 10-10.
Jarvis Landry Pushing Through the Pain
With Beckham out, Landry was much more in the spotlight and the play-callers didn’t shy away from giving him work. Landry sparked the offense with a 30-plus yard catch and also played a big role with a couple of trick plays that worked with mixed success. This was all with a broken rib.
Landry was commended by his coaches for gutting it out and being a leader.
“That is the player that Jarvis is. That is why he is a leader of this football team,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I made a big deal of it in that Indy game. We knew how physical that game was going to be and he was a team captain for a reason in that game because I know he is a wide receiver but he is a physical player that everybody feels when he is on the field.”