Freddie Kitchens could care less about Odell Beckham Jr.’s camp absence.
While the new Browns coach would have liked to have seen his new wide receiver at the voluntary three-day minicamp last week, he has no issue with Beckham training elsewhere and defended the wide receiver’s decision to do so.
“There’s no problem with Odell not being here,” Kitchens said Saturday, via Cleveland.com. “I’d rather him be here. He’s not here. It’s voluntary. That’s what the word voluntary means. He can decide to come or he can’t. But under no circumstance am I going to say that I’m pissed off at Odell for not being here. He’ll be ready to play and ultimately that’s the only thing I want, for him to be ready to play when we start kicking off in September and he will be — I promise you.”
Beckham, who was dealt from New York to Cleveland in a blockbuster trade in March, skipped the camp and instead trained at his home in Los Angeles. It’s interesting considering he had attended Pat Shurmur’s extra minicamp with the Giants last season, though Kitchens has stayed in contact with him throughout.
“I talk to Odell every day. He knows what we’re doing offensively every day,” Kitchens said. “Now, it’s better for us to have him here, us being a new staff, but if we can’t have him ready to play when he shows up, they need to find a new coach. All right? They need to find a new position coach. He will be ready to play. Don’t worry about that.”
Beckham wasn’t alone, as fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry was also a no-show. But Kitchens was quick to point out other key players who have skipped voluntary workouts in the past and gone on to have productive seasons.
“The past two Defensive Players of the Year (Aaron Donald) sat out all of training camp,” Kitchens said. “Did you know that? Khalil Mack, he’s a pretty good player. He didn’t have any offseason program in the spring. They didn’t have any, any offseason.
“I’ll tell you this about Odell Beckham and Baker Mayfield. I think they have a pretty good relationship and they’ve formed pretty good camaraderie. They’ve worked out for two summers in California and I don’t see their camaraderie being a problem.”
Teams will open preseason training camp in mid-July, with rookies and first-year players permitted to join sevens days before veterans.