CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. missed most of the on-field work during the voluntary portion of the offseason program, but certainly, he was a quick study during his time away from the team.
Beckham Jr. was on the field with the team during the mandatory veteran minicamp in Berea last week, and by paying close attention to the drills, coach Freddie Kitchens believes the multi-time Pro Bowl receiver has not missed a beat.
“Odell is a bright guy,” Kitchens said. “He is smart. It is not like this is the first time he has opened up our book. He has been studying and all that kind of stuff. Odell is making progress just like everybody else. Odell had some bad plays, and he had some good plays.
“He is going to continue to grow and learn, and that is what everybody else is going to do. Odell doesn’t have a magic wand. He is going to come out and he is going to work. He is going to work as hard as anybody to get better every day, a little bit better every day. We don’t need vast improvements. We just need a little bit of improvement every day.”
Over 59 regular-season games, including 56 starts, in five years with the New York 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.
Beckham Jr. has put together four 1,000-yard and three double-digit touchdown seasons since being selected by the Giants with a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Last season, Beckham Jr. turned in a 77-catch, 1,052-yard, six-touchdown effort for the Giants.
Beckham Jr. was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2014-2016) and two-time Second Team All-Pro honoree (2015-2016) during his five years with the Giants.
Throughout his tenure in New York, there were questions in the media about maturity and his relationships with teammates within the Giants’ locker room, but those reports have no bearing on Kitchens’ thoughts on Beckham Jr.
“I don’t buy into the hype of the media -- no pun intended,” Kitchens said. “I don’t buy into all of that. I just take the person for who they are and how they are once we get them. I don’t buy into anything else that has happened anywhere else because everywhere else is not here.
“Hopefully, we create an environment that brings out the best in people. I have always heard from the people that I trust that Odell is a good guy, and he works his ass off. If he does that, he is going to be successful.”
Kitchens said Beckham Jr. “is continuing to get better from a knowledge standpoint and from a technique standpoint,” and expects the wide receiver’s relationship with the organization to grow along with his skills on the field when the team reports back to Berea for the start of training camp.
“It is all about trust and respect,” Kitchens said. “I think he trusts and respects me, and I definitely trust and respect him. We move forward. We have one thing in common -- we don’t listen to the outside noise.
“I really don’t think that affects our relationship. Hopefully, we have guys on our team that do the same and it doesn’t affect our relationships. I don’t know. As far as the ‘fresh start,’ I only see what I see. I don’t go off hearsay from the standpoint of Odell.”