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'A day at a time': Odell Beckham Jr. working hard but uncertain for Sunday return against Bears

Odell Beckham Jr.
Posted at 12:48 PM, Sep 23, 2021

CLEVELAND — With Jarvis Landry on the Reserve/Injured list with an MCL sprain missing at least the next three games, getting Odell Beckham Jr. back would be a big boost for the Cleveland Browns. But as of Thursday, plans for Beckham's return are still "day-to-day."

Beckham, who spoke publicly for the first time since his ACL tear and subsequent knee surgery last season, said that he's feeling good but still taking his return "a day at a time."

On Wednesday, Beckham was a full participant in practice for the first time all year after being limited through training camp and early season practice sessions. The receiver said that things went smoothly and were part of the progression to get him back on the field, be it Sunday or later down the road.

"Just working my way back into it, everything feels good so just taking it day by day," Beckham said. "Just keep attacking each day until we get there and we'll see then."

While many fans have been anxious for Beckham's return, he said that the original plan for his return to game action was 11 months post-operation, which would be around Oct. 10, and that Landry's injury hasn't impacted his return.

"No it was just very unfortunate. It's like playing phone tag with your best friend. I went down in the season last year and we dreamed of being on the same team in the NFL and playing together and then the week when I feel like 'alright, let's start, let's look at it,' he goes down," Beckham said. "It didn't speed anything up, he's a guy who can't be replaced. His energy, his presence on this team as a leader, captain on this team, can't replace him. Just wishing him to get back as fast as possible. Like I said, this was a dream come true for us."

If Beckham is available Sunday, that would put him a few weeks ahead of his original rehab schedule, which isn't surprising with how the receiver has looked at practice sessions this year.

It even seemed promising, with the way he was cutting, running and leaping during training camp, that Beckham would be ready to start Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but after warming up on the field pre-game, the Browns ruled Beckham out.

"I definitely was itching, wanting to go against that team but it just didn't happen," Beckham said. "I'm just following God's plan, he put me in a good place to be here right now so like I said it's just a day-by-day process."

The surgery to repair Beckham's knee was his third in his career, having a procedure to repair a sports hernia in 2019 and another to repair a fractured ankle in 2017.

"It's been a long time since I just thought about the knee. This is the third time being on that surgery table so it's just a different feeling. The first time when I came back from the ankle it was tough to overcome that. I felt like this time it was a lot easier in the process—more of a spiritual healing, I would say," Beckham said.

Beckham said the recovery was more about the "why." Why should he push through it? Why it was so important to get back on the field? And the answer was a simple one.

"For the kids out there who have that feeling of wanting to give up on something, that's all I could think about is what message would I send to them by giving up now? Because I haven't reached the goals I wanted to reach, the accomplishments, the things that that I set in sight are still not out of sight for me. So I just find a way to keep going, be resilient and find a way to get better each and every day," Beckham said.

Even if Beckham isn't cleared for Sunday's game against the Bears, his eventual return is something he is very much looking forward to.

"Whenever that is I know that I'm just going to be excited. I've worked extremely hard to not only get back but improve and try and be better than I ever have been so I'm definitely looking forward to it, it's been a long time," Beckham said. "It's been a long time in that cave putting yourself back together. I had a great team around me for the entire process, great support system and it's going to be special."

And while we've seen Beckham show just how much of an athletic anomaly he is over the off-season, he's waiting to put his work to the test in a game setting before taking any compliments.

"I know that game day energy is different than a practice when the weather is like it is today, it's a completely different feel. So I'm just looking forward to the moment whenever God lets me get back on the field," Beckham said. "I'm focused, I'm locked in. That's just really it, I'm just not here for anything but to be the very best teammate I can be, player I can be and I'm just here to play ball."

Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.

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