Odell Beckham Jr. has caught on with Rams’ drive to be super
Moving among Hollywood entertainment and sports celebrities was familiar to Odell Beckham Jr. even before the star receiver signed a free-agent contract with the Rams in November.
Beckham counts Drake, Kanye West and LeBron James among his friends.
But since joining the Rams, Beckham has flourished in a supporting role out of the spotlight.
With receiver Cooper Kupp on track to possibly establish several NFL receiving records, Beckham has caught four touchdown passes in six games for a Rams team that could clinch the NFC West title Sunday.
If the Rams defeat the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and the Arizona Cardinals lose to the host Dallas Cowboys, the Rams would claim their third division title in five seasons under coach Sean McVay.
The Rams could catch a break if Lamar Jackson doesn’t play for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday as they look to clinch first in the NFC West.
On Friday, Beckham said it was great to be back in the end zone. Before signing with the Rams, he had not scored since Oct. 4, 2020, while playing for the Cleveland Browns. That was a few games before he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“Over the last couple years, I felt deprived,” Beckham said, laughing, during a video conference with reporters. “I’ve definitely missed the end zone, for sure. It just hasn’t been as easy and seamless as it could and should be.
“I’m someone who I feel like I should score once or twice every single game. I feel like I could get a hundred yards every single game. ... So, I’m just happy that I’m at a place where I’m having fun like within myself just having fun, playing football again, and the rest is going to take care of itself.”
Beckham, 29, is part of a Rams offense that features quarterback Matthew Stafford and Kupp, who leads the NFL with 132 receptions, 1,734 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns.
Beckham appears content with his role on a team that was built with a mandate to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. People who characterize him as a “me guy” have “no idea” about him, he said.
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“When I chose to come here, I’m knowing that Coop’s on pace to break a record,” said Beckham, who has been targeted 36 times and has 20 receptions. “I didn’t come here thinking, ‘Oh, I got to get my targets.’ Like that’s just not being me.
“Yeah, I want the ball. I’m a competitor, but like I say, I came late to the party. I’m here witnessing history and greatness between this whole team, but specifically Stafford and Coop and it’s just phenomenal to watch.”
The Rams signed Beckham to bolster a receiving corps that included Kupp, Robert Woods and second-year pro Van Jefferson. The day after Beckham agreed to terms, Woods suffered a season-ending knee injury, thrusting Beckham into the starting lineup against the San Francisco 49ers with one day of practice.
Beckham’s touchdown catches against the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings increased his career total to 55.
“This guy’s been nothing but a joy to be around from the very first time,” McVay said, adding “He’s got great charisma, a great presence.
“He’s an incredibly talented football player. And then, I can attest to this now, he’s a great teammate. ... He’s been incredibly selfless.”
Rams coach Sean McVay said running back Cam Akers could play as early as Sunday, but he’s most likely to return during Week 18 or the playoffs.
Said Stafford: “He’s a great teammate. ... He’s doing a great job of getting open when he is getting his opportunities. ... The guy comes out, works hard, does everything he’s supposed to do.”
Beckham’s animated touchdown celebrations lift his team, linebacker Von Miller said.
“Whenever he’s having fun, everybody sees it and it’s refreshing for everybody,” Miller said. “So many people around the world love Odell. ... They love to see his dances and all of that stuff.”
Beckham could get another chance to score against the Ravens, who statistically rank as the worst pass defense in the NFL.
Beckham has played in one playoff game — with the New York Giants in the 2016 season — so he is looking forward to another postseason experience.
But first there is an opportunity to clinch a division title.
“It is definitely cool and it’s something special to be a part of,” he said. “I came late to the party, but still was celebrated like I’ve been here for the whole time.
“So, it’s definitely a special opportunity — not just to win the division, but to go for it all.”
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Along the way, Beckham will enjoy watching Kupp’s pursuit of history, including a 2,000-yard season.
“It’s just funny all of the backlash that I get about the type of person I am and this and that,” he said. “I think you just see me in an atmosphere where success is around.
“And like I say, these people are on pace for history. I want to watch them break it. You know, I told [Kupp], I want him to get 2K yards so I can come and break your record. That’s how it happens. Records are meant to be broken, and like I say, I think we’re just witnessing something very, very special.
“I’m happy to be here firsthand.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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