BEREA, Ohio -- Even before practice had come to a close on Tuesday, a throng of media members began to gather around the team-sponsored backdrop typically used for player interviews.

By the time Odell Beckham Jr. stood in front of the crowd, it had grown three rows deep -- four if you count the row of reporters employing the a-typical tactic of crouching in front of the cameras.

Over the course of the past four seasons, the Browns have attracted plenty of attention and generated no shortage of headlines. Heck, there's even been some optimism sprinkled in during each offseason.

What Cleveland hasn't done much of lately is win -- as evidenced by its 11-52-1 record dating back to the 2015 campaign. That, however, is supposed to change this season. Hence the sizable media contingent for what was an otherwise mundane three-day mandatory minicamp.

Odell Beckham Jr.
Ben Axelrod-WKYC

The longest tenured player on the Browns roster, Joel Bitonio was a rookie the last time his team found itself in this type of spotlight. But whereas most of that attention was focused on a single player -- Johnny Manziel -- this year's has a different, more justified vibe.

"We have a lot more proven guys," Bitonio said Wednesday after the Browns wrapped their third and final minicamp. "That was a buzz off of a singular rookie more so than a whole team. But we have a lot of guys here that have done a lot of things -- and I'm not just talking about Odell.

"Olivier Vernon, Myles Garrett and Denzel [Ward] are coming off of Pro Bowl seasons. Baker Mayfield's going into his second year -- he's already done something on the football field in the NFL. There's a lot more proven talent."

That there is, and the oddsmakers have taken notice.

According to, the Browns have received the most bets to win this season's Super Bowl, ahead of both the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. At 14-1, Cleveland has been given the fifth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl -- not bad for a team less than two years removed from completing an 0-16 campaign.

For the Browns, this represents an obvious paradigm shift given their recent success -- or lack thereof. But rather than run from the lofty expectations, Cleveland's players seem to be embracing them, even if it means having to answer a few more questions in interview sessions than they've become accustomed to.

“It feels good to be on the positive side of things," said linebacker Christian Kirksey, who was a rookie alongside Bitonio in 2014. "We all know how it goes on the flip side if things do not go how we want it to go. Right now, we are just trying to keep everything in-house and focus on what we have in front of us. Our goal is to win, our goal is to get better and try not to pay attention to too much of what people are saying.”

Myles Garrett Atlanta Falcons-Cleveland Browns Football
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) looks to rush the passer against Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews (70) in the second half of a game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio on Sunday, November 11, 2018.
David Richard

The Browns' willingness to run toward the spotlight and not from it can perhaps be surmised in comments that wide receiver Antonio Callaway made on Wednesday. Asked about his goals for the upcoming season, the second-year speedster stated 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns -- lofty numbers for a player who will also be sharing touches with Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, David Njoku, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt among others.

"I like that," Cleveland head coach Freddie Kitchens said. "I like setting the expectations high -- for ourselves, not letting you guys do it."

With minicamp in the books, the Browns will now head home for a few weeks before returning for training camp in late-July.

And when they do, the expectations -- and the cameras -- will be waiting.