National Football League

Odell Beckham Jr. believes Cleveland is on the verge of something special

July 27

Is there a new big dog in the AFC?

For the past five seasons, the AFC has been monopolized by the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, the only teams to represent the conference in the Super Bowl during that span.

But there might be a new contender ready to break up the status quo, and it comes in the form of a team that historically has had low expectations.

That team is the Cleveland Browns.

After making a run to the AFC divisional round last season before falling to the Chiefs, the Browns now enter the 2021 season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. And one of the main reasons for optimism is the return of Odell Beckham Jr. to an offense that began to click after he tore his ACL last October.

The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver believes that there is an opportunity for the Browns to seize greatness this coming season. They went back to back.

"I came back for a reason," he said. "I feel like we have a special opportunity. It's just something that feels special about this team."

Beckham Jr. has spent the last nine months rehabbing from the ACL injury he suffered, and according to Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry, OBJ looks even better than he did before the injury.

The two spent time with quarterback Baker Mayfield in Texas this summer where Landry was able to see the progress in real-time.

Despite playing in just six games last season, Beckham Jr. still managed to score four touchdowns in a brief appearance.

If Landry's words are to be believed, the Browns offense has the potential to be one of the best in football in 2021. 

Cleveland was third in the NFL last season with 148.4 rushing yards per game, and with the vertical threat of Beckham Jr. back in the lineup, there is a chance the passing attack takes another leap.

Beckham's progress in his rehab to return to the field isn't just the stuff of legend from his teammates either at this point, with him being cleared to perform in all football activities after passing his physical on the first day of Browns' training camp.

ESPN's Ian Rapoport reported on how Beckham's progress is ahead of schedule now after just nine months removed from surgery.

"This is very, very good news because now they are going to see what their star receiver is like in practice, with the offense. Really get back to being normal for Odell."

Adding to that is a sense of continuity that hadn't surrounded the franchise in recent years. For the first time in his career, Mayfield is entering training camp playing for the same coach for a second consecutive season in Kevin Stefanski.

That spells good news for the Browns, with Mayfield coming off of a season where he threw a career-low eight interceptions while also throwing 26 touchdown passes.

The calming presence of Stefanski with Mayfield is a reason why Colin Cowherd believes the Browns' window for contention is open, as he explained on "The Herd."

"He did have 11 TD's and one pick over his last six games last year, so I think Stefanski understands what he can do and what he can't," Cowherd said.

Through two seasons in Cleveland, the connection between Mayfield and Beckham Jr. has been uneven.

If the two can get on the same page this coming season there is a chance the Browns produce fireworks on the field.

And if that is the case, the Browns could turn their Super Bowl dreams into reality.

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