CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. hoped and expected that 2020 was going to be his year.
He’ll now have to sit the rest of the year out.
Disaster struck Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati when he tore his left ACL early in the first quarter of the Browns’ thrilling 37-34 come-from-behind victory over the Bengals.
An MRI confirmed the injury Monday morning.
“Obviously, it is a big loss,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “As everyone knows, he is a huge part of what we do. Now we will just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role.
“Ultimately, we are just trying to do what our players do best. That is our job to figure that out.”
Surgery has yet to be scheduled for Beckham, who will be placed on injured reserve by the team this week.
“You can’t replace him,” rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who caught the game winning touchdown from Mayfield with 11 seconds left Sunday, said. “It is just the next guy up.”
Beckham played his first season in Cleveland with a core muscle injury that he underwent surgery for in February. He spent the whole offseason rehabbing and preparing himself for a big year.
He’ll now be forced to spend a second straight offseason rehabbing.
“That is a big, big loss for the team,” cornerback Denzel Ward, said. “I am hoping and praying for a speedy recovery for him. It is bigger than football. I just want him health-wise to get right. I hope he is good mentally. Whenever he gets healthy, I know he is going to get right back to it and get to work.”
The Browns, who are off to their best start at 5-2 since 1994, will now be forced to go the rest of the way without their top receiver.
“The energy he brings to practice and the energy he brings the games, no one else is going to be able to bring that type of juice,” Stefanski said. “It is our job to find the guys that that can go compete and that we can go put them in spots where they can succeed. I think we will be able to do that.
“That is not easy. [I] Do not want to have to do it and I am very disappointed for Odell, but that is the nature of this beast. Injuries are part of this game. It does not mean any of us have to like it, but we do have to deal with it.”
Beckham suffered the injury in the first quarter while trying to chase down Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips, who had just intercepted Baker Mayfield’s pass which was intended for Beckham.
Beckham appeared to get upended at the end of the play when he collided with Browns fullback Andy Janovich in midair, buckling his left knee.
“I know injuries are part of this game, but I just hate to see that,” Stefanski said.
Beckham, acquired by the Browns in March 2019 from the New York Giants, will finish the season with 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns.
Mayfield bounced back from a disastrous start that saw him go 0-5 with an interception in the opening quarter by setting a franchise record with 21 consecutive completions and five touchdowns.
Beckham made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, but injuries have derailed what was once projected to become a Hall of Fame career.
The 2014 No. 12 overall pick by the Giants was limited to four games in 2017 with a broken ankle and 12 games in 2018 due to a bruised quadriceps.