BEREA — Maybe it’s frustration.
Perhaps it’s setting the mood for mandatory minicamp next week.
Whatever the reason, coach Freddie Kitchens’ tone changed Thursday when asked about receiver Odell Beckham, who attended only one of the nine organized team activities practices this month, and just three days since the offseason program began April 1.
“I just want to see him,” Kitchens said when asked what he wants to see out of Beckham at minicamp.
What did he miss in the last three weeks?
“A lot — the offense,” Kitchens said.
The OTAs feature no pads and limited contact, but coaches view them as valuable for the installation of the offensive and defensive systems and the mastering of the playbook.
“I thought we got a lot accomplished,” Kitchens said. “The base of everything that we’re going to be doing is probably in, and again that’s just a starting point.”
Beckham was acquired March 13 in a blockbuster trade with the Giants. The Browns knew he wouldn’t attend much of the offseason program and accepted it. Kitchens repeatedly pointed out the sessions were voluntary, including an extra minicamp in April allowed because Kitchens is in his first year.
“If we can’t have him ready to play when he shows up, they need to find a new coach,” Kitchens said after the draft April 27 when asked about Beckham.
But while the majority of his teammates practiced at team headquarters over the last three weeks, Beckham trained in Los Angeles, attended a Formula One race in Monaco and received a tricked-out orange Rolls Royce with a personalized hood ornament. Beckham’s only time in Berea was the first day of the voluntary program April 1 — his introductory news conference — the day preceding OTAs and the opening day of OTAs on May 14.
Kitchens has always maintained he would prefer if every player attended every session, and could’ve been reacting Thursday to Beckham’s poor attendance at OTAs.
Beckham isn’t the only player who missed practice time, but he carries the highest profile and missed the most sessions, with the exception of running back Duke Johnson, who skipped the entire offseason program after requesting a trade.
“It’ll be nice to have everybody here and get them some work and get everybody ready to compete during training camp when we’re going to start forming the Cleveland Browns,” Kitchens said of minicamp.
Receivers coach Adam Henry had Beckham at LSU and with the Giants. He said he would’ve liked Beckham to attend the offseason program but isn’t disappointed.
“No, he’s going to work. He’s a guy who works hard,” Henry said. “He’s always in condition. You’ve got to save him from himself when he’s practicing because he’ll just go and go and go. He’s like the young person with the ball. If there’s a ball being thrown or kicked, he wants it. He wants to play.”
They’ve stayed in constant contact since the trade.
“He’s always asking football questions and things like that, so he’s got a football brain,” Henry said.
The Browns have yet to see in person what has the potential to be a potent passing attack in quarterback Baker Mayfield, Beckham and fellow receiver Jarvis Landry, who’s Beckham’s best friend and former teammate at LSU.
“It could be pretty special but, again, we’ve got a long way to go,” Henry said. “It’s something you look forward to. We’ve got a quarterback that can throw it with great leadership, and with Freddie’s mind and the play calling, we’ll be in a good situation.”
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In the meantime, Mayfield took some lumps during OTAs working without Beckham, Landry (injury) and No. 3 wideout Antonio Callaway, who skipped at least a couple of days over the last two weeks.
“It is obviously a challenge for our quarterbacks in terms of the receiving corps that are out there, but that is part of the deal,” coordinator Todd Monken said last week. “It is their job to make them right.”
Kitchens said the added obstacles can benefit Mayfield.
“We ain’t got some of our top guys here, but one thing Baker can get better at although they’re not here is he’s still got to go through his progressions,” Kitchens said. “He’s still got to learn how to throw to different receivers. He still has to learn how different receivers come in and out of routes.
“So he can continue to get better with his eyes and with his declarations and with his sights and his hots and his protection adjustments and then throwing to different type guys coming out of breaks. If we have our top six guys, every one of those six is going to come out of a break differently. He’s done a good job of that.”