Opinion: Los Angeles Rams need Odell Beckham Jr. to prove himself once again

·4 min read

On paper, the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. has the makings of something special for the aggressive, all-in-to-win-now Los Angeles Rams.

In the Need Department, given the knee injury that prematurely ended the season for Robert Woods, adding OBJ has become less luxury and more essential.

But nothing, on any account, is guaranteed until it happens.

The Rams (7-3) packed a two-game losing streak as they headed to Green Bay this weekend for a showdown against the Packers, and Beckham's debut during a thrashing against the 49ers in Week 10 was hardly classic.

Remember the video that OBJ's dad posted — and the receiver failed to publicly denounce as out-of-bounds — to ignite the breakup with the Browns? The video highlighted one instance after another when OBJ was "open" and left open without getting the football, throwing quarterback Baker Mayfield under the bus for not making the connection.

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Well, if there's a new video to be made for OBJ's stint with the Rams, it wouldn't be complete without the Matthew Stafford interception at San Francisco that came on a play when Beckham apparently pulled up short on the route.

Yes, these cases tend to have multiple dimensions.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams.

The good news for Beckham and the Rams is that there is still time. It's still possible that L.A. can get the desired big impact from OBJ and the other big in-season addition, Von Miller, and mimic the roll that Tom Brady and Bucs had down the stretch last year and complete the ultimate goal of seizing a Super Bowl crown on Feb. 13.

The Rams are coming off a bye week, which allowed OBJ some time to delve into the playbook (which, conceivably could lead to finishing routes) and heal up a bit more for the stretch.

Yet it's also fair to wonder whether Beckham, 29, is poised to become the dominant player that he once was, the one the Browns had so many hopes for as he reunited with his pal, Jarvis Landry. Health is always an NFL issue. Beckham began the season on the rebound from a torn ACL, so that has always been in the mix for his rhythm.

Add the drama that led to the Browns granting his wish to be released and the transition to a new team, and Beckham (who signed a 1-year, $1.25 million deal with the Rams) clearly has something to prove.

"This whole month has been just crazy for me," Beckham told reporters this week. "So, just getting my legs underneath me, I’m just starting to get back into the flow."

We’ll see. At the moment, Beckham is sitting on 0-for-2021 when it comes to touchdowns in seven games, including six with the Browns.

That’s a far cry from the player who came into the league in 2014 with the Giants, putting himself on the map with that classic one-handed catch against the Cowboys as he torched secondaries at a record-setting pace for his first couple of years.

Now it's a classic NFL reality check: What have you done for me lately?

Rams coach Sean McVay knows. At least he can create designs for an immense talent who, with health and rhythm, might be the perfect complement to star wideout Cooper Kupp as they try to fill the void left by Woods' setback.

McVay was bullish on Beckham's prospects of showing up as a bigger factor during Sunday's game at Green Bay. In addition to heaping praise on OBJ's work ethic and calling him a "joy to be around," the coach acknowledged that he wouldn't rule out using Beckham on punt returns. And McVay felt that after a walk-through session Thursday, a more physical, intense practice Friday was important to the ramp-up process.

"It helps because he's getting up to speed mentally," McVay told reporters. "You don't take for granted how important those physical reps and the rapport that he and Matthew are continuing to develop is."

And Lambeau Field would be a great place to prove it.

Quick slant

The penalty flag fest featuring the Cowboys and Raiders on Thanksgiving was the most-watched regular-season NFL game in more than 30 years (since 1990), drawing 38.531 million viewers, according to the preliminary numbers released by CBS. Yes, many millions still prefer their turkey dinners to be stuffed with football. The viewership was up 26% from last year's Turkey Day offering and also marked Paramount's most-streamed game ever. For comparison, the most-watched game during the recent World Series pulled in 14 million viewers.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Los Angeles Rams need Odell Beckham Jr. to prove himself once again

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