Players are ‘numb’ to sagas like Beckham’s, says Browns safety John Johnson –

The Browns won without Odell Beckham Jr. last season, and as far as John Johnson is concerned, they can win without him again if need be.

Johnson was playing safety with the Los Angeles Rams the day Beckham suffered a torn ACL on the first play of the game in Cincinnati on Oct. 25, 2020, when a pass thrown to him by Baker Mayfield was intercepted. Johnson signed with the Browns in March.

The Browns return to Cincinnati on Nov. 7 for a critical AFC North game, and this time Beckham’s status is in limbo.

Beckham was excused from practice Nov. 4 for a second straight day following Odell Beckham Sr. posting an 11-minute video on Nov. 2 highlighting times this season when Mayfield did not throw the ball to OBJ despite Beckham being open. Browns general manager Andrew Berry and Beckham’s agent, Zeke Sandhu, are hashing out what to do next.

Odell or no Odell, it has to be business as usual, says ⁦@Browns⁩ guard Joel Bitonio.

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) November 4, 2021

The Browns could waive Beckham. But that would mean they’d still owe him roughly $7.67 million as the prorated portion of his 2021 salary if he isn’t claimed. Beckham could sign with any team if he clears waivers. The Browns could also keep him on the roster and make him inactive each week, but that would be like playing with a 52-man roster and a competitive disadvantage. Beckham could also agree to a settlement for far less than the $7.67 million owed and then sign elsewhere.

@Browns⁩ have to throw the ball downfield more often, says offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) November 4, 2021

The least likely scenario is Mayfield, Beckham and the Browns resolve the issue. The reason that is unlikely is because, from the last time the media had access to Mayfield or head coach Kevin Stefanski (Nov. 3), neither the coach nor quarterback had heard from Beckham.

“I feel like the majority of this locker room would love to have him in this building — flat out,” Johnson said before practice Nov. 4. “Hopefully we can get him back somehow, but if not, we’ve got to keep it going.”

Beckham has 17 catches for 232 yards and no touchdowns. He missed the first two games recovering from knee surgery last November.

The Browns were 7-3 in the regular season last year after Beckham was injured. That includes the game in Cincinnati in which Mayfield threw five touchdown passes in a 37-34 shootout.

“As players, we find this way to kind of go numb to stuff like this, because it’s just a business,” Johnson said. “That’s just how it works. Obviously there will be a little emotion in it. But I think we’re just trained to just keep moving forward.”

Normally, Jarvis Landry meets with reporters on Thursdays. Landry, Beckham’s best friend, was not at the lectern Nov. 4. Perhaps he did not want to get cornered into taking sides in the issue, or maybe not taking his normal Thursday turn in front of cameras and microphones was unrelated to the unfolding Beckham drama.

Whatever the case, certain it is the players on offense are taking the same approach as Johnson — head down and plow forward.

“If he wants to come back and be part of the team, I’m sure we’d welcome him with open arms,” Bitonio said. “We have a game to play. Yes, it’s a story and yes, it’s out there. But for us, when you go out there on the field, you’re playing a game. There are injuries that happen. There are suspensions. There are things that happen in football.

“You have to go out there and play. You don’t care who’s out on the field or not. For us, it’s like, ‘We’ve got to go out there and play with the guys we have,’ and that’s the mindset that we’re taking.”

The Browns are 4-4, losers of three of their last four. The Bengals are 5-3. The Ravens, first in the AFC North at 5-2, host the 3-4 Vikings on Nov. 7. The 4-3 Steelers host the 3-5 Bears on Nov. 8.


Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (ankle, knee, hip), right tackle Jack Conklin (elbow), Beckham (shoulder/non-injury) and center JC Tretter did not practice with the Browns on Nov. 4. Safety John Johnson (neck), wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (ankle) were limited.