LOS ANGELES (AP)Odell Beckham Jr. has been the center of attention on his offenses for most of his football career. He’s now part of a supporting cast in Hollywood, and the veteran receiver says he loves his role.
Ever since he joined the Los Angeles Rams in a controversial midseason move, Beckham has been a complementary player during Cooper Kupp’s spectacular chase of the NFL’s single-season receiving records with Matthew Stafford.
”I came late to the party, but I know how much it means, and I feel like a part of it,” Beckham said Friday. ”I’ll be celebrating like I’ve been here the whole time.”
Beckham is still making significant contributions, including four touchdown catches in his last five games, but he’s clearly not the main man in the Rams’ passing attack: Kupp has 132 catches for 1,744 yards and 14 TDs heading into Los Angeles’ final two games.
Beckham moved to the Los Angeles spotlight, but it isn’t trained on him – and he insists he’s thoroughly enjoying the ride.
”I find it funny, all the talks and everything that’s ever been said about me: a `Me’ guy,” said Beckham, who has 20 receptions for 248 yards and four scores in six games. ”People are going to say whatever, but just have no idea. I chose to come here knowing that Coop is on pace to break a record. I didn’t come here thinking, `Oh, I’ve got to get my targets.’ Yeah, I’m a competitor, but I’m here witnessing greatness between Stafford and Coop, and it’s been fun to watch.
”For me, it’s about finding ways to be locked in, knowing that you’re not specifically the guy, but I am going to be a threat and option every single play, and run the route every time as if it’s going to happen. Yeah, it’s just funny all the backlash that I get about the type of person I am. Now you see me in an atmosphere where success is all around.”
Beckham has been reluctant to speak about the reasons behind his decision to leave the Cleveland Browns midway through this season, a move that left disappointed teammates and thousands of angry Browns fans in his wake. He indirectly gave insight into his discontent Friday while expressing his excitement at being able to score his series of TDs for the Rams during their playoff surge.
”Over the last couple of years, I’ve felt deprived, and I’ve definitely missed the end zone, for sure,” said Beckham, who didn’t score in six games for Cleveland this season. ”It just hasn’t been as easy and seamless and it could and should be. I’m someone, I feel like I should score once or twice every single game. I feel like I should get 100 yards every single game. … I’m just happy I’m at a place where I’m having fun, where I’m happy playing football, and the rest of it is going to take care of itself.”
The Rams’ winning ways and strong team culture have rehabilitated and burnished several veterans’ reputations during coach Sean McVay’s five-year tenure alongside general manager Les Snead. Most prominently, Jalen Ramsey was considered an attention-seeking malcontent by many after he forced his way out of Jacksonville, but the cornerback has become an All-Pro and an exemplary leader in Los Angeles.
Although Beckham could leave as a free agent in a few months, his stop in Los Angeles has been beneficial to both parties – and it isn’t over yet.
”He’s an incredibly talented football player, and now I can attest to this: He’s a great teammate,” McVay said. ”He’s been really intentional about learning as much as he can in a short amount of time. He’s one of those guys that if you’re around him, you can’t help but like him.”
The Rams (11-4) are headed to Baltimore on a four-game winning streak with a playoff spot secured. They would clinch the NFC West if they beat the Ravens on Sunday and the Arizona Cardinals lose to Dallas in the afternoon – and if that’s a possibility, McVay said he might delay the takeoff of the team plane so they can watch it happen.
A win is the primary goal, but Beckham is making sure nobody forgets Kupp is nearing NFL history – even Kupp himself.
Beckham says he’s constantly nagging Kupp and Stafford to get Kupp to 2,000 yards receiving.
”I told him, `I want you to get 2K yards so I can come and break your records,”’ Beckham said. ”I think we’re just witnessing something very special, and I’m grateful to be here firsthand. … I know it’s something he wants to achieve, and I’ll be that subtle reminder in the back of his head. We’re witnessing greatness, so I’m looking forward to it and finding ways to win these games (and) play complete, complementary football.”
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