- About that bubble wrap: Whether he was playing with media, or the Titans, or anyone else, Odell Beckham Jr. dropped a nerf ball-sized bombshell that he still hasn’t shed a minor injury that has kept him from opening up and running full speed.
“This is something I’ve never had to deal with,” he said. “It’s like an extremely fast car with a little alignment or something off. Like right in the center of what you need. Now the car can still go, but it’s dangerous. It’s just something I’ve been trying to figure out in and out of rehab every single day. Never really dealt like anything like that.
“It’s getting better. It’s as good as it’s going to be until the season starts. Just something you have to deal with. We have a game Sunday, so it’s time to go.”
At the joint workouts with Indianapolis three weeks ago, Beckham was held out with what was loosely termed a hip injury. He participated in only a handful of team sessions during the five weeks of training camp – and no games – but did join the team periods this week.
Beckham was not on the injury report on Wednesday, but did appear on Thursday as limited with a hip injury.
“Not really want to get into the specifics of it,” he said. “Just something that hinders me from opening up and fully sprinting as fast as I can.
“I don’t even know how it happened. Just one day after practice I was feeling weird -- no route, no play, no cut, and it just happened. When my adrenalin’s going, I can’t feel nothing.”
Beckham said it would not keep him from making his Browns debut Sunday.
“I’ll be running as fast as I can. If that’s not 100, I feel confident in myself to wherever I’m at I’ll be ready to play.
“Once you get out there, there’s a different energy you have, a different adrenalin. I feel like nothing will get in the way of that.”
But as far as Beckham’s mental state -- what with his Browns debut alongside boyhood pal Jarvis Landry, the first game of his fresh start away from the Giants – Beckham pronounced himself A-OK.
“My mental’s gonna push my physical state to another level, and that’s all I need,” he said.
Coach Freddie Kitchens downplayed the fact Beckham hasn’t opened up in practice.
“I think he’s getting there pretty quick. Sometimes guys play faster in games than in practice,” Kitchens said.
- Still standing: Three defensive veterans whose starting jobs may have been challenged by rookies have won out and will be in their familiar spots for Sunday’s opener against the Titans.
They are linebackers Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert, who outlasted Sione TakiTaki and Mack Wilson, and cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who prevailed over top draft pick Greedy Williams.
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks indicated the rookie challenges brought out the best in the incumbents.
“Taki has been hurt. Unfortunately missed a lot of camp and preseason games,” Wilks said. “Mack Wilson is doing well. I expect [the rookies] to be in the mix. I couldn’t tell you they would start Week 4, Week 5. But I’m very impressed with what Joe and Christian have done. I love the physicality that Christian is playing with. Joe with his ball skills playing out in space, and those guys are doing a great job of playing downhill, which we emphasize a lot at our linebacker position.”
As for the cornerbacks opposite starter Denzel Ward, Wilks said he has no intention of rotating Mitchell to give Williams some early play time.
“Rotation is always at front to keep those guys fresh,” Wilks said of the defensive linemen. “Linebacker and DBs we play. We want them to get in a rhythm. But we’re going to do everything we can to get these guys ready to play throughout the year because once again they’re one play away. Look for both [Mitchell and Williams] to be in there at some point in time.”
- Welcome to NFL: Taywan Taylor, the slot receiver acquired from Tennessee for a seventh-round pick, probably won’t be active for his first NFL game against his old team.
Taylor has been busy learning the Browns’ playbook and getting acclimated since the trade a week ago.
“It’s crazy. It’s been a quick turnaround, going from Nashville to Cleveland. I’ve been loving every day since I got here,” he said. “The guys on the team have welcomed me with open arms. Baker [Mayfield], my quarterback, has been a big help to me so far, as far as the playbook. That’s been my main focus.”
Taylor said he “wasn’t too thrilled” to learn of the trade initially, but that disappointment faded fast.
“Because there’s no better place to be coming to than Cleveland, with a team like this, all these stars, definitely up and coming with a very promising future. I can’t wait to be a part of something like this,” he said.
- Brownie bits: Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said the new kick placement team – holder Jamie Gillan, kicker Austin Seibert and incumbent long snapper Charley Hughlette – has practiced two days in FirstEnergy Stadium to get acclimated to the environment. Priefer said it will be routine throughout the season prior to home games …
Another special teams nugget: While Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson will handle return duties during Antonio Callaway’s four-game suspension, don’t be surprised to see Jarvis Landry or Beckham serve the role in crunch time – if needed. “Those are always possibilities if we get to the fourth quarter and we need a big play. I mean, those are your big-play guys that you go to,” Priefer said …
Kitchens said that Monken will be stationed in the coach’s box upstairs during games because “that’s where he’s needed most.” … Kitchens said he’s comfortable with his understanding of how officials are calling pass interference – a play now subject to coaches challenge whether or not a flag is thrown. He said there were 50 challenges to pass interference in preseason and five calls on the field were overturned. “I think you have to be pretty certain [to challenge],” he said.