BEREA — The orange Rolls Royce sat adjacent to the practice fields as owner Odell Beckham Jr. went through a rigorous stretching routine, worked on his takeoff from the line of scrimmage and ran routes for quarterback Baker Mayfield.
He never put the pedal to the metal.
“I’ve just been kind of afraid to just open up,” the three-time Pro Bowl receiver said Thursday after practice. “I’d rather get to Sunday and open up than be running around and hinder myself before the game.”
The season starts Sunday against the Titans and Beckham still isn’t feeling quite right.
He didn’t play in the preseason and missed three weeks of team drills as he dealt with a hip injury. He said he doesn’t know how it happened, had never experienced anything like this and hasn’t tried to run at maximum velocity despite returning to team drills last week.
Even if he’s less than full speed, Beckham expects to be a difference-maker Sunday in his Browns debut.
“I’m going to be running as fast as I can run, so if that’s not 100, I feel confident in myself to wherever I’m at, I’m going to be ready to play with whatever I got,” he said.
Beckham missed 16 games over his final two years with the Giants with a variety of leg injuries. He said he’s proved he’ll play while hurt, pointing to a game in London in which he didn’t practice but played through a hip pointer, catching five passes for 49 yards.
“I’m confident in me,” he said. “And once you get out there it’s a different energy that you have. It’s a different adrenalin. I feel like nothing will get in the way of that.”
He wouldn’t estimate what percent he feels.
“I’m not a mathematician,” he said.
Fellow wideout and best friend Jarvis Landry said less than 100 percent of Beckham is still plenty.
“He’s probably still running the fastest in the (receivers) room right now,” Landry said. “He’s a competitor. I know when the ball is lined up on Sunday he’s going to be ready and he’s going to give the team all he’s got.”
Beckham wasn’t listed on the injury report Wednesday but appeared Thursday as a full participant. He said he first felt discomfort following a camp practice.
“I don’t even know how it happened,” he said. “Just one day after practice I was feeling weird. No route or no play, no cut and it just kinda happened.”
The custom-made Rolls Royce, equipped with a hood ornament depicting Beckham’s famous catch against the Cowboys, arrived Thursday.
“I’m sure you’ve seen her,” he said.
“Big Bertha,” as he called her, perhaps prompted Beckham to compare himself to a sports car.
“It’s like an extremely fast car with a little alignment or something off, and you know, it’s right in the center of what you need,” he said. “Now the car can still go, but it’s dangerous.
“It’s just something that I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ve been in and out of rehab every single day, never really dealt with anything like that.”
He complimented the organization on the plan to get him healthy for the regular season.
“I’ve got to thank them for that. Just getting me to this point to where I can go,” he said. “It will be something that hopefully keeps progressing and gets better and not worse.
“But you know, it’s just something you got to deal with. We got a game Sunday, so it’s time to go.”
It’s the occasion he, Mayfield, Landry and Browns fans have been waiting for since he was traded to Cleveland in March.
“I don’t think I can put it into words at the moment,” Beckham said. “So I don’t know what kind of emotions, thoughts, feelings are going to be running through me when I hear (the national anthem), but I’m definitely anxious and excited about playing.”
He’s yet to catch a pass from Mayfield in a game but isn’t worried about them being out of sync.
“I’ll let you decide and you can ask me after the game,” Beckham said.
The coaches didn’t sound overly concerned about the injury.
“It is fun seeing him running around, and I’m not sure yet we’ve even seen him full speed,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said before practice. “But he’s been building himself up to getting to that point, and we’re excited to get going.”
“I think he is getting there pretty quick,” coach Freddie Kitchens said.