While he won’t be giving up his day job anytime soon, Odell Beckham Jr.’s overall level of fitness received rave reviews during teammate Jarvis Landry’s celebrity charity softball event over the weekend.
Beckham appears to be ahead of schedule after undergoing ACL surgery on Nov. 10, 2020. Along with participating in Landry’s softball tournament, Beckham has been posting videos detailing his recovery. He recently posted a video of himself cutting and running routes in preparation for the Browns’ 2021 season.
“Man, he looked amazing,” Landry said of Beckham, via ESPN. “I can’t wait for you guys to see him. I can’t wait for him to get back out there. He’s in fantastic shape and he’s ready to go. He’s only what, 6½ months [beyond surgery], and he’s already doing some things that will blow your mind away.”
Beckham and Landry recently took part in workouts hosted by quarterback Baker Mayfield. During those workouts, Beckham showed no signs of rust after missing the second half of the 2020 season.
“He ran a post route, sticking off the same injured leg and exploding out of it, then going up, jumping off that same leg and making a catch, doing his thing — what he does with one hand,” Landry said. “You sit back and you’re like, ‘Wait. He’s even better than he was last year.'”
A healthy Beckham should mean big things for a Browns team that last season won the franchise’s first playoff game since 1994. Beckham’s return to the lineup should help bolster a Cleveland passing attack that finished just 24th in the league in 2020.
With Beckham out, the Browns’ offense relied more on running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Hunt earned Pro Bowl honor recognition after rushing for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns (averaging 5.6 yards per carry) in just 12 games. Hunt rushed for 841 yards and six touchdowns while also catching 38 passes and five touchdowns. The duo had 31 touches for 206 yards and three touchdowns in helping lead Cleveland to a 48-37 win over Pittsburgh in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs.
A three-time Pro Bowler with the Giants, Beckham had a somewhat disappointing first season in Cleveland. While he caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns, Beckham caught just 55.6% of his targets, a career low up until that point in his career. And while that percentage dipped to 53.5% last season, Beckham had caught nearly as many touchdown passes in seven games (three) as he did during his entire first season in Cleveland. More importantly, the Browns were 5-2 in games Beckham played in in 2020 after winning just six games during the entire 2019 season.
With Beckham back in the lineup, the Browns are considered one of the Chiefs’ top challengers to come out of the AFC in 2021. That sentiment was shared by Chiefs’ All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who also participated in Landry’s softball game over the weekend.
“They’re definitely a contender, without a doubt,” Kelce said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s definitely there. Baker and the gang have upped the ante, made this team an unbelievable team and a team you have to prepare for and take serious. I think that moving forward without a doubt, I can see a lot more playoff games between us, and I’ll just take it one day at a time and hope for it. I think the Browns and Chiefs are definitely neck and neck.”