Browns’ Beckham not ready after surgery, 2021 debut delayed

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BEREA, Ohio (AP)Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t ready to play following knee surgery and won’t make his debut Sunday against Houston.

Coach Kevin Stefanski ruled Beckham out Tuesday, saying he will practice on a limited basis this week but will sit out against the Texans (1-0).

”I talked to Odell about it,” Stefanski said. ”This is my decision and felt it was the right thing to do for this week.”

Beckham, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament last October, was expected to play in the season opener at Kansas City. However, after going through pregame warmups, the three-time Pro Bowler told the Browns he couldn’t be on the field for the number of plays they wanted and he was ruled inactive.

Stefanski said he decided to reveal Beckham’s status early in the week.

”Just felt like that was the right thing to do,” Stefanski said before Tuesday’s workout. ”Last week I felt we had a good plan, he was close, working very hard on the side. But just felt like it made more sense to have clarity early in the week from a game-planning, practice standpoint.’

”So that’s the plan for this week.”

Stefanski reiterated that Beckham, who is in his third season with Cleveland, has not suffered any setbacks and that the decision to make him inactive after he practiced all week wasn’t out of the ordinary.

”That happens in the NFL,” he said. ”You practice guys, you have guys in different spots and sometimes you make a decision close to game time. And it’s the classic it is what it is. He’s pushing to get there, just didn’t feel like he could play the significant number of snaps.

”I just felt like for this week the prudent thing to do was let’s let these other guys get all those reps, although they got a bunch last week, let’s game-plan accordingly and then we’ll update you guys as we get into next week.”

With Beckham out, rookie wide receiver Anthony Schwartz stepped in and had a solid debut, catching three passes for 69 yards.

Beckham was off to a good start last season (23 catches, three TDs) before getting hurt against the Bengals. Interestingly, Cleveland’s didn’t miss a beat without him and quarterback Baker Mayfield led the Browns to their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season.

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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