Cleveland Browns standout receiver Odell Beckham Jr. could be making his return to the lineup next Sunday. Brad Stainbrook of the OBR reported that the team is planning for Beckham to make his season debut against the Bears.
Stainbrook also reported that week three had been the target return date all along. Beckham took part in training camp and appeared ready for the season opener, but the Browns decided to air on the side of caution and hold him out of the first two games.
Cleveland has lacked a reliable vertical receiver on offense. Tight end David Njoku had made some plays downfield, as has rookie wideout Anthony Schwartz, but Beckham is a special talent that can make unique plays on the ball.
He was initially injured during the week seven contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. Beckham was chasing down a defensive back after an interception, and while going for the tackle, he tore his ACL.
On the bright side, it was a clean tear. There was no additional ligament damage, and Beckham underwent surgery just a few short days after the injury.
His short career in Cleveland has not yet lived up to expectations, but that doesn't fall entirely on Beckham. Quarterback Baker Mayfield had an uninspiring 2019 campaign, and Beckham still went over 1,000 yards.
Mayfield had a slow start to the 2020 season as well, in part because he was still learning a new offensive system. The Browns had a bye week after the Cincinnati game, and from there on out, Mayfield was lights out.
Beckham's return would bolster this offense and solidify their reputation as one of the best units in the NFL. Mayfield is playing the best football of his career, and it appears that he is ready to utilize Odell properly.
Beckham will likely never have the same statistical dominance that he had with the New York Giants, but that doesn't mean his impact will be minimized. Elite offensive playmakers can affect the game without touching the ball because the defense has to prepare for their game-breaking talents.
The Browns offense has made a few explosive plays to this point in the season, but the playmakers are very inexperienced. Beckham makes big plays look routine, and his presence should take this Browns offense to the next level.
Browns Digest will continue to update readers on Beckham's status in the lead-up to Sunday's contest.