Browns: Team can still beat Steelers without Odell Beckham Jr.

The Cleveland Browns sent Odell Beckham Jr. home with an undisclosed illness on Thursday, prompting many to speculate on his availability.

When it rains, it pours in Cleveland. First Nick Chubb got hurt, then Wyatt Teller, and now Odell Beckham Jr. has been sent home from the Cleveland Browns practice facility with an undisclosed illness early Thursday afternoon. No word on what it could be but that hasn’t stopped people from speculating that it’s for COVID-19. That’s unknown at the moment, what is known is that Beckham was sent home with an illness and Beckham may not play this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers now.

The Browns still can beat the Steelers without Beckham.

The Browns may be down a lot come Sunday. With Beckham being home, Teller’s and Chubb’s injury, and rumors that Jarvis Landry (ribs and hip) may be too banged up to go as well, the Browns are looking pretty shell-like on offense.

Except, that’s not entirely the case. The Browns still have four very good options to catch passes, they’re just not receivers. Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant have all at different times this year stepped up and made plays for the Browns, with Bryant even being ranked in the top five for rookie efficiency by Pro Football Focus for his outing against the Dallas Cowboys.

While the idea may be a bit out there, putting Njoku out in the slot and letting Hooper and Bryant line up on the line may be the best way to offset the team’s lack of depth at the receiver position. The Browns have gotten next to no production out of the third and fourth receivers on the team. Third wide-out KhaDarel Hodge is out for at least one more week while on IR (injured reserved), and Rashard Higgins has largely been a non-factor until this past week.

That’s a plus and negative for the Browns. It’s a plus because the team hasn’t needed to get anything out of them with the way their scheme works, it’s a negative because now you don’t really know what you have in a week where you may be without your two best wide receivers.

The Browns will need to rely on their tight ends and running game more than ever if Beckham is in fact out for any amount of time. Even if Beckham just has something like the flu and is ready to play by Sunday, who’s to say he’s going to be up to playing at a high level? Some illnesses can still take a lot out of someone. It’d be best to air on the side of caution, let Beckham rest and recover and tell Njoku he’s starting off the line.

It might be a disaster or it might be a brilliant move but right now he’s a much better option than Donovan Peoples-Jones.

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