Four Browns Thoughtshttps://www.si.com/nfl/browns/news/four-cleveland-browns-thoughts
A few things have come out over the past two days that were worth mentioning, but didn't really demand their own individual stories.
1. Odell Beckham Fallout
Odell Beckham's conversation with the Wall Street Journal was two weeks old when it was published. And since he's currently in Berea working with the team on conditioning, what he said has been treated as something he no longer believes because he isn't opting out this season.
The concerns Beckham raises in that article are no less valid than they were two weeks ago. They might be more valid given the increase in the death count over the past two weeks. Nothing Beckham said seemed like it was about his individual safety, but was speaking about the league and ultimately society as a whole.
Just because Beckham has a huge salary doesn't mean he can't have the concerns of 'regular people'. Plenty go to work because that's their job, but that doesn't mean ethical concerns regarding whether sports and football specifically should be played are invalid. There's nothing about that thought process that's untenable and it really reflects the concerns of many people in this country.
If Beckham has some peace of mind because he believes the team is doing everything they can to keep the players safe, that's great, but it doesn't address the concerns he raises about society as a whole.
2. Organizational Attitude Remains Positive
Whether it's Kevin Stefanski, the team's head coach or general manager Andrew Berry, they really seem to be maintaining a positive attitude, trying to roll with the punches, not allowing any setbacks to get them down, at least publicly.
They've only had three players opt out to this point and two of those are players were in line to potentially start in Drew Forbes and Andrew Billings. Forbes would've at least had a chance to start at right guard, competing with the incumbent Wyatt Teller. Billings was going to have a major role in the defense, was a big addition to their run defense and reducing the overall workload Larry Ogunjobi was going to have this season.
Two positions with excellent depth now may need help from outside the organization. The team has been supportive of the decisions of those players, which is really all they can be in this environment. They may lose more before Thursday's deadline. And they have work to do to improve their roster, but they aren't sweating.
The 80-man roster limit does ensure they options to bring in to try to address the situation. It's just not going to be easy to replace what those players brought to the table.
Damon Harrison is the gold standard at nose. The Browns could look into that spot, but many of the players that are opting out this season are offensive and defensive linemen. Being obese has increased risk with COVID-19 given the potential stress it can put on the heart and lungs in particular. The NFL's athletes that are over 300 pounds are incredibly impressive, but the human body really isn't designed to casually carry that much weight, so that is a concern.
3. Team's Handling of David Njoku
The Browns continue to take the high road with tight end David Njoku in light of his trade demand which he has now rescinded. They want him on the team, so it's not a surprise. He's a big part of their plan, wanting to utilize double tight end sets in their offense at a high rate. They have no interest on rubbing salt in the wound to Njoku, even if it's just to his ego.
Njoku has been immature at times in his career and they need him engaged and positive to maximize his impact on the team. Even while acknowledging he was surprised by the trade demand, Berry noted that Njoku was communicative throughout the process, trying to make it minimize the salacious nature of the story.
Njoku, should he feel attacked and opt to sulk, he could have another nothing year. It's in the best interest for both Njoku as well as the Browns to keep him as positive as possible. The team has really handled this situation well and it might provide some tangible benefits this season.
4. Baker Mayfield Things
When asked about Baker Mayfield, Berry was positive about him. From his efforts to bring the team together in a unique offseason, his own work to transform and improve his body and put in the work necessary to be a great quarterback, Berry was excited about what he can be.
Berry wasn't asked about Mayfield's Instagram post that featured Dr. Stella Immanuel, a doctor that has provided a massive endorsement for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. Even if there are people who believe in that drug as an effective treatment, Immanuel's other beliefs have drawn scorn from critics.
From her insistence that vaccines being developed are made from alien DNA and will make people immune to being religious to saying that gynecological conditions are caused by sex with demons that occurs while women sleep, she's not exactly the ideal champion for that particular cause. It will be interesting to see if this comes up with Stefanski or Mayfield himself when he next has a media availability.