Odell Beckham Jr.’s arrival in Cleveland brought unusual hype to the long-hapless franchise. Through five games, Beckham, and the Browns, aren’t living up to it.
Cleveland’s worst loss of the season came in a 31-3 blowout from the 49ers on Monday night, which featured one of the worst plays of Beckham’s career.
With the 2-3 Browns trailing 28-3 in the fourth quarter, Beckham was put in to return his first punt of the year. After catching the ball just shy of Cleveland’s 35-yard line, the former Giants receiver ran halfway across the field, then zig-zagged multiple times in the wrong direction, only to end up fumbling the ball away.
“In a game that seemed like it was already over, just trying to make a play,” Beckham said. “Anytime I can get the ball in my hand, I felt like I just needed it, maybe I could give us some energy, some life, and I don’t think I’ve fumbled much in the NFL, but it is what it is.
“You just take it on the chin. We had already been down, the game was close to done. I was just trying to give us some spark, trying to give us some life and just did too much.’’
Following Beckham’s ninth career fumble, head coach Freddie Kitchens was asked why he gave Beckham his first punt return opportunity of the season.
“Odell catches punts every day,” Kitchens said. “So, you know, just gave it a whirl, and just need better ball security.”
Beckham’s bigger problem was finishing with just two catches for 27 yards, one week after making only two catches for 20 yards.
Beckham expected another All-Pro season after leaving Eli Manning behind, but the 26-year-old has recorded just 23 receptions for 335 yards and one touchdown through five games with Baker Mayfield. In 59 career games with the Giants, Beckham had 44 touchdowns, while averaging nearly seven catches and 97.8 yards receiving per game.
The Browns are accustomed to disappointment. But never with such a big star.
“It was ‘Monday Night Football,’’’ Beckham said. “The whole world watched that and got to see that so you can sit here and put it on us, or you can sit here and say the 49ers played a way better game and that’s just what they did.”
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