Odell Beckham Jr.'s well-documented concerns about playing football amid the COVID-19 pandemic have fueled headlines throughout the country and led some to speculate the Browns wide receiver might opt out of the 2020 season.
Yet Browns general manager Andrew Berry painted a picture Tuesday of Beckham using the early stages of training camp to fully prepare himself for the upcoming season.
"He's returned and really been focused on working hard," Berry said during a Zoom video conference with Browns beat writers. "He's been very engaged in everything we've done in the classroom, and he's really focused on having a great year."
Berry's words are consistent with what a person familiar with Beckham's thinking confirmed Monday -- the star player does not plan to opt out.
Berry's comments about Beckham came a day after WSJ. Magazine, a Wall Street Journal publication, posted excerpts from a question-and-answer session in which Beckham said, "We're not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward? ... I just feel like the season shouldn't happen and I'm prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn't mind not having it."
According to an editor's note in WSJ. Magazine's story, the interview with Beckham took place about two weeks ago, just before the NFL and NFL Players Association reached an agreement July 24 on new health and safety policies and procedures related to the pandemic. Browns veterans didn't report to training camp until July 28, when they began to experience the COVID-19 testing process and other protocols.
"Having a player of Odell's stature on the roster, obviously, he generates a lot of attention, and Odell's very mindful that he has to be conscientious with his words," Berry said. "With that being said, we've had plenty of dialogue and conversation with Odell, not only just through the summer, but certainly as he's returned to Cleveland, and that's been a positive thing. We feel really good about everything that the league and the (NFL)PA have agreed upon and everything that we've done in Cleveland."
Berry said feedback from Browns players on the franchise's COVID-19 protocols "has been largely positive." But even with teams throughout the league adopting stringent safety measures, many players share Beckham's concerns.
On Tuesday, defensive tackle Andrew Billings became the third Browns player to opt out due to COVID-19 concerns, joining offensive linemen Drew Forbes and Drake Dorbeck.
The deadline for players to opt out is 4 p.m. Thursday, a person with knowledge of the agreement between the league and NFLPA confirmed.