Bengals monitoring OBJ situation, but ready for any Browns receivers

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said he’s been paying close attention to what is going on in Cleveland with Odell Beckham Jr., but the Bengals will be ready for any receivers the Browns bring to Paul Brown Stadium for the first “Battle of Ohio” game of the season Sunday.

Reports indicated Beckham was excused from practice a second straight day Thursday as a result of possible tension created when Odell Beckham Sr. shared on Instagram an 11-minute video montage of all the times this year his son was open and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield did not throw to him.

The video went viral Tuesday, and Beckham Jr. hasn’t been at the Browns’ practices since. On Thursday, Odell Beckham Sr. posted to credit Jdaddy Productions on YouTube for creating the video and allowing him to share it.

“Obviously, we have to play them, so in preparation, we are preparing for everybody to be ready and available,” Awuzie said. “But if someone happens not to play, then we study the guy behind him as well. So yeah, you’ve gotta follow kind of closely.”

Beckham’s role in Cleveland’s offense seems to be smaller since his first year with the Browns in 2019 when he caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns.

He tore his ACL against the Bengals last October and missed the final nine games of the season, but even before then, he had just 23 catches on 43 targets for 319 yards. In six games since returning in Week 3 this season, he has 17 catches for 232 yards on 34 targets, including one last week in a 15-10 loss to Pittsburgh in Mayfield’s return from a non-throwing shoulder injury that sidelined him one game.

Awuzie said he’s noticed Beckham’s targets have gone down but he still sees the same “juice” the star wide receiver showed when he was with the New York Giants and Awuzie last faced him.

“Odell is a great player in this league and a great player in this league for years, and coming off the injury, he still looks like he has that same explosiveness,” Awuzie said. “Obviously, not getting the same amount of targets -- who knows why, but yeah, definitely still see the athletic ability and the talent still there.”

The Bengals secondary wouldn’t be able to only focus on Beckham even if he does play. Beckham remains the team’s leading wide receiver, but the quarterbacks have been spreading the ball around among tight ends David Njoku and Austin Hooper and receiversJarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins.

“All those guys have made plays,” Awuzie said.“You look at Donovan Peoples-Jones, he’s made a lot of plays down the field, in the intermediate pass game and a really strong guy. You look at Rashard Higgins, a guy who’s had a lot of success in college, came into the league and is just now starting to get his targets and all that stuff up and you are able to see what he does. And Jarvis, a proven receiver, (and) you get the tight ends as well, the backs out of the backfield. They’re a very well-balanced offense in terms of weapons. ”


Browns at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1290, 1530, 95.7, 102.7, 104.7

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