BEREA, Ohio (AP)Odell Beckham Jr. shrugged and smiled about his playing status.
”We’ll see,” the Browns star receiver said.
Beckham’s comeback from knee surgery is either days from being over or about to drag on for another week or two. He wouldn’t commit to playing Sunday against the Chicago Bears in his first interview with media members in nearly a year.
Beckham leaned on ”day by day” as his go-to response when pressed whether he’s ready to get back on the field after his second season with the Browns ended prematurely when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Oct. 25 in Cincinnati.
The flashy 28-year-old was a ”full” participant in practice Thursday, according to the Browns’ injury report. He said Wednesday’s workout, which was held indoors because of rain, went well.
”Everything is going smooth, just been part of the progression the entire time, just working my way back into it,” said Beckham. ”Everything feels good.”
Signs have been pointing to Beckham returning to action this week. He posted a ”hype” video on YouTube earlier this week, showing footage of him doing rehab, and his decision to speak with reporters after a long holdout could be seen as more evidence.
However, Beckham said he was waiting for the right time to talk.
”I wanted to come up and give the most honest responses and all that,” he said. ”But I feel like it’s been used against me, the words have been used against me. And right now I’m at a place in my life where I’m just here to play football.
”This is what I love to do. I’m focused, I’m locked in. That’s just really it, man. 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.”
Not long after Beckham finished speaking, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt expressed optimism he would have Beckham this week.
”We’ll obviously take it up to game time, but hopefully he can be able to make it this week,” he said. ”He’s looked good so far in practice. We’ll see how he feels later in the week, but we’re hoping.”
Beckham said that after his operation, the original plan was for him to target 11 months as his return to the field. He’s at 10 1/2 months since his November surgery but still not rushing things.
”Whenever it is, I know I’ll be excited,” he said. ”I’ve worked extremely hard to not only get back but improve and to try and be better than I ever have been, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.
”It’s been a long time. It’s been a long time in putting yourself back together and I’ve had my entire team around me though the whole process, great support so, and it’s going to be special. It’s been a long time.”
Beckham’s knee injury led to his third operation as a pro. He’s had to overcome mental hurdles during his comeback, but said he never considered retirement over the past year.
”You’ve seen the stories when I was 23, 24 years old and talking about just being done with the game,” he said. ”This time it never really crossed my mind. I wasn’t going to give up. I’m not the kind of fighter who got knocked out on the last fight and I’m going to hang it up.
”I’ve got to come out and fight again.”
Beckham was close to playing in the season opener at Kansas City and said he was ”itching” to face the Chiefs before he was a late scratch after warming up.
The Browns could use him now after they were forced to put five-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry on injured reserve earlier this week with a sprained knee. Beckham and Landry are close friends and former college teammates.
Beckham said Landry’s injury hasn’t affected his timeline.
”It didn’t speed anything up,” he said. ”He’s a guy who can’t be replaced – his energy, his presence on this team as a leader, captain on this team, you can’t replace him. Just wishing him to get back as fast as possible. This a dream come true for us.”
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