Jarvis Landry Skips Regular Press Availability; Browns Contend No Rift Over Odell Beckham Jr.’S Forced Absence

Jarvis Landry was a no-show at his regular Thursday media availability, thus waving an opportunity to calm the waters of the Odell Beckham Jr. divorce via the media. (Cleveland Browns)

Jarvis Landry was a no-show at his regular Thursday media availability, thus waving an opportunity to calm the waters of the Odell Beckham Jr. divorce via the media. (Cleveland Browns)

Jarvis Landry skips regular press availability; Browns contend no rift over Odell Beckham Jr.’s forced absence

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 Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …

On the second day of Odell Beckham Jr.’s forced exile from the team, two developments indicated the locker room is still coming to grips with what the heck happened.

1. Safety John Johnson said, “I feel like the majority of this locker room would love to have him in this building … flat out.”

2. Receiver Jarvis Landry, Beckham’s best friend, did not participate in interviews on his regularly scheduled day.

Beckham was excused for the second straight day by the Browns after his father posted on Instagram an 11-minute video on figuratively throwing quarterback Baker Mayfield under the bus and running back and forth over him with a steamroller.

The video and notations by Beckham Sr. to subsequent comments by users essentially blame Mayfield for failing to get the ball to an open Beckham in four games this year and allege Mayfield did not want Beckham to succeed.

The provocative act comes at a crucial juncture of the season for the Browns. They have fallen to 4-4 and last place after three losses in the last four games. They play at second-place Cincinnati (5-3) on Sunday – coincidentally the site of Beckham’s ACL injury and Mayfield’s instantaneous rejuvenation almost exactly one year ago.

The events have left the team trying to rally around the common goal of saving the season. But there is no doubt there is some confusion, at the very least, if not division, among players who support Beckham and those who support Mayfield.

Landry is one of the most respected leaders on the team and could have calmed the waters via the media, but he chose not to do so on Thursday.

“I don’t think it’s dividing the team,” Johnson said. “Like I said, if there’s any way he can get back into the building, I would be tremendously happy.”

“It’s hard because I feel we don’t know what the situation is,” guard Joel Bitonio said. “We feel he’s a great player when he’s on the field. We don’t know what’s really going on. But if he wants to come back and be part of the team, I’m sure we’d welcome him with open arms.”

That appears doubtful after coach Kevin Stefanski reportedly told the team on Wednesday that Beckham is not considered part of the team. If you think OBJ’s absence is a distraction, just imagine the distraction if he was brought back to the team after all this.

The coach also deferred questions about Beckham’s future to GM Andrew Berry, who was working on some kind of mutual parting with Beckham’s agent.

All of which has left Mayfield with the task of picking up the pieces.

“He’s our quarterback,” Johnson said. “He’s no-brainer our quarterback. We just have to find ways to make those winning plays.”

Coordinator Alex Van Pelt would not make specific comments about the Beckham video or roster status. But he expressed confidence in Mayfield pulling together the team in another must-win game.

“It is tough on him, I am sure, but at the same time, he is the leader of this offense,” Van Pelt said. “As he goes, we go. He just has to again maintain the laser focus of getting ready for this week and preparing with the guys who are in the building right now for Sunday.

“There is no question in my mind those guys will play well for Baker.”

Bitonio said Mayfield has been “great” at practice since the team returned to work on Wednesday.

“He’s a back-against-the-wall guy anyway,” he said. “I think his personality is focused on what’s at hand. We have a game to play. Yes, it’s a story, and yes, it’s out there. But when you go out on the field --  there’s injuries, suspensions, things that happen in football -- but you go out and play. No one cares who’s on the field or not. We have to go out and play with the guys we have. That’s kind of the mindset we’re taking.”

What’s the prob?

Van Pelt took issue with questions about why the passing game is under-producing.

“I would not say anything is going wrong,” he said. “Really, I think we completed 75 percent of our passes last week, which is pretty good in NFL standards. We had some mishandling of the ball and a couple of drops that would have added to that and increased that.

“I think where we need to be is more explosive with our ability to push the ball down the field. As far as completion percentage and what we are doing taking care of the football in the pass game, we are doing OK. We need to do better of getting bigger chunks.”

So how does that happen, especially with Beckham not available? (Donovan Peoples-Jones is expected to return after missing two games with a groin injury.)

“You have to throw it down the field is one way,” Van Pelt said. “Doing it through our play-action game is another way. Whatever it is, we have to find ways to be more explosive through the air.”

Van Pelt shows little concern about Mayfield’s ability to deepen the passing game while playing with a torn labrum and fracture on his humerus in his left shoulder.

“I think he will be [accurate],” he said. “I have no doubts. My confidence in Baker is big. He will work through that as he goes. The harness, he will continue to get used to that the more reps he gets with that. I do not see it as a concern. We just have to find ways to make the plays down the field.”

Brownie bits

Van Pelt said he expected Landry to rebound from his tough end of game against Pittsburgh (one fumble, two drops) and believes the situation with Beckham will not affect his game day in Cincinnati. “He is a pro. He is going to turn it on. It is game day and the lights come on, he is going to show up and make plays for us. He has to. That is what we are counting on him to do,” Van Pelt said …

Cornerback Denzel Ward had his second straight day of “limited” work after missing the Pittsburgh game (hamstring). “Today is a big day for him,” coordinator Joe Woods said before practice. “He is going to be out [on the field]. He will take some practice reps. I think he is feeling better just from the conversations I had with him. It would be nice to have him. [The Bengals] are going to throw it, so yeah, definitely [we need him].”