BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns continued their first week of organized team activities at their headquarters in Berea Wednesday, but they did so with two notable absences.
Despite his presence at Tuesday’s practice, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was not at Wednesday’s session, and neither was running back Duke Johnson Jr., who reportedly is waiting to be traded by the Browns now that they have Kareem Hunt on the roster.
“I would be lying to say that I wasn’t disappointed that we don’t have everybody here,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said after practice. “I’m not going to fool you and try to trick you into saying, ‘I’m happy-go-lucky fine with it.’
“I want everybody here because I do think it is important to be here, but it is their option. They understand what they have to do once they come here. As long as everybody is on the same page as that, I’m fine as long as they are ready to play. Odell is going to be ready. Duke is going to be ready. All of them are going to be ready to play.”
Kitchens believes the only way to ensure 100 percent attendance is by changing the rules of the offseason program in negotiations with the NFL Players’ Association and making the organized team activities practices mandatory.
“It is voluntary,” Kitchens said. “Duke is another one. He can show up and he will know what to do and be ready to play. I fully expect him to be here in minicamp. He knows what is on the line, and he will be back with us in training camp and I guess we will see where we go from there.”
Although Kitchens would like to have Beckham Jr. at more practices, he is encouraged by his track record of success.
Over 59 regular-season games, including 56 starts, in those five years with the Giants, Beckham Jr. turned 622 targets into 390 receptions for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns. Beckham Jr. averaged 92.8 yards per game, including a league-best 108.8 during the 2014 season.
Last season, Beckham Jr. turned in a 77-catch, 1,052-yard, six-touchdown effort for the Giants.
“Odell Beckham is going to be here in the fall, and he is going to be a good football player in the fall just like he has been,” Kitchens said.
With or without Beckham Jr. and Johnson Jr. on the field, the Browns will continue working to make the most of the offseason sessions.
“It is for learning how to compete when you get to training camp because that is when the team is going to be made,” Kitchens said. “That is the way I have always viewed it. That is the way I was brought up. You are just getting these young guys ready, knowledge-wise to compete, technique-wise to compete so you can see what you actually have in training camp, and so, they can actually compete with the possibilities of making the team.
“We just need to incorporate it into a team setting and move forward with the Cleveland Browns, and that is what we are going to become. Are we there yet? No. Whether Odell is here or not here, we are not going to be the Browns yet. We are going to be the Browns when we line up in September.”