Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made his first media appearance of the season on Thursday and, naturally, the primary topic focused on when he will return to the field.
When it came time for an answer, however, Beckham was not ready to declare that he will be in the lineup when the Browns host the Chicago Bears on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Beckham has missed the first two games of the season as he is still recovering from an ACL injury that ended his 2020 season in Week 7. While he said that “everything feels good,” he also mentioned that he was 10-and-a-half months into what was expected to be an 11-month recovery, leaving him vague about the possibility of facing the Bears (quotes via Browns Zone):
“We’ll see. Just working my way back into it. Everything feels good, so just taking it day by day. Just keep attacking each day until we get there and we’ll see then.”
Beckham’s comments were similar to those of head coach Kevin Stefanski, who would not commit to Beckham playing against the Bears when asked about it on Wednesday. That does not mean that Beckham will not play, of course, but it also does not approach the level of certainty that some fans seem to have that Beckham is a lock to play this weekend.
The ACL injury is just the latest in a growing list of injuries that Beckham has dealt with in recent years. Beckham played the entire 2019 season with a sports hernia that required surgery, a quadriceps injury in 2018, and suffered a fractured ankle in 2017. Add those all up, and since the start of the 2017 season, Beckham has only played in 37 out of a possible 66 games.
Beckham spent part of his rehab time at EXOS, a Phoenix-based “human performance company” that helped him view his post-injury recovery in a different light (quotes via Browns Zone):
“I felt like this one, when I got to EXOS, they had my name, Odell Beckham Jr., ACL rehab, and I told them to change it to ‘spiritual reconstruction.’ This is just my soul that I need to work on, and I found that I’m just in a way better place. My energy, the way that I approach a situation, the way that I approach anything that goes on, I just have a positive outlook on. And it changes everything. I come out here, it was a gloomy day and I come out here and then the sun starts shining. It’s about how you look at it. I’ve got a different aura about me at the moment.”
With wide receiver Jarvis Landry being placed on injured reserve this week, and the rest of the wide receiver position filled by mostly raw players, the Browns can certainly use Beckham, who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, back in the lineup.
Whether or not that will be this Sunday against the Bears, the following week against the Minnesota Vikings, or a game later this season remains a question that Beckham is not ready to answer just yet.