Odell wants bigger role but happy to play for contender
The Cleveland Browns look like one of the AFC's stronger teams through five weeks, dropping games to only the surging Los Angeles Chargers and reigning conference champion Kansas City Chiefs.
However, Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the first two games of the season, is once again struggling to carve out a leading role in the team's offense. The wide receiver has just nine catches for 124 yards and no touchdowns in three appearances.
Though Beckham wants to be more than a decoy for Cleveland, he's excited to be a member of a potential Super Bowl contender.
"I can't sit there and lie like I don't want the ball," Beckham said Thursday on 92.3 The Fan. "I feel like I'm a shooter (in basketball). I know I bring a lot of attention to defenses and other people are going to be open. You just have to live with that.
"The ultimate goal is to win the championship, and I feel like I'm in a great situation to do that. My main focus was to be healthy, stay healthy, get through a season."
In his first season with the Browns in 2019 following a blockbuster trade from the New York Giants, Beckham racked up 1,035 yards and four touchdowns - solid numbers that still fell significantly short of his peak with the NFC East club.
The 28-year-old's production dipped further last year. Beckham had just 319 yards and three scores before suffering a season-ending knee injury in late October.
Beckham's lack of involvement in last Sunday's shootout loss to the Chargers - the wideout caught two passes on only three targets despite 32 pass attempts from Baker Mayfield - forced head coach Kevin Stefanski to defend the usage of his supposed No. 1 receiver.
"As I've mentioned before, he's a dynamic football player," Stefanski said after the 47-42 defeat, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. "He's very front of mind when we are game-planning and when we are calling plays. Sometimes the defense dictates if the ball goes elsewhere, and we are comfortable with that because we have good players elsewhere."
Beckham is under contract through 2023 but the final two years of his deal contain no guaranteed money, giving Cleveland a potential out this offseason without incurring any dead money on its cap.