The Cleveland Browns netted 531 yards of total offense in their loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5, with quarterback Baker Mayfield throwing 32 times and targeting seven different players.
Odell Beckham Jr., once positioned as the long-term answer atop Cleveland’s wide receiver depth chart, had two catches on three targets for 20 yards. Since returning from a torn ACL for Week 3, he’s recorded 124 total yards on 19 targets.
“I can’t sit here and lie like I don’t want the ball,” Beckham said in his press conference on Thursday. “… I know I bring a lot of attention to defenses on the other end and other people are going to be open. You just have to live with that.”
Beckham said that he “feels like I’m a shooter” similar to NBA star James Harden — who the Brooklyn Nets don’t pay for defense, Beckham said. He knows that in the red zone, he’ll attract a pair — or sometimes three — defenders when he breaks for certain routes, leaving others wide open. Tight end David Njoku leads Cleveland with 14 catches and 260 yards this season, while Rashard Higgins leads all of the Browns’ receivers with 11 catches and 143 yards.
Despite the limited production, Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski said that Beckham is “very front-of-mind” in their weekly game plans, but the decrease in targets has positioned the wide receiver as a potential trade-deadline piece. Beckham said that he feels like he’s in a “great situation” to accomplish the “ultimate goal” of winning a Super Bowl, though.
“There will be days where it is my day,” Beckham said of the 3-2 Browns. “… It is what it is at this point. Like I said, my main focus was to be healthy, to be able to stay healthy, get through a season.”
The wideout joined the Browns before the 2019 season, arriving from the New York Giants via a trade that included a pair of draft picks and Jabrill Peppers. Since then, Beckham has appeared in 26 games with 2019 serving as his only full campaign, when he hauled in 1,035 receiving yards. He had ACL surgery in November 2020, returned for Cleveland’s Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears, but then popped his shoulder out in that game and acknowledged afterward that “I don’t want to be on the surgery table anymore, so you keep working (the muscles around) it.”