Alex Van Pelt: Odell Beckham Jr. has been a 'model guy' during virtual offseason work

When Alex Van Pelt took the job as the next Browns offensive coordinator, he knew exactly whom he needed to speak with for advice on how to coach one of the top wide receivers in the league.

Van Pelt wants to bring the best out of Odell Beckham Jr., who caught four touchdowns in his first season with the Browns and played through a core muscle injury for almost the entire year. To do that, Van Pelt talked with former New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who was Beckham's first offensive coordinator when he was drafted in the first round in 2014.

McAdoo, now a quarterbacks coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, obviously delivered high praise for Beckham, who made three Pro Bowls in New York. 

Three months into the offseason, everything Van Pelt heard from McAdoo about Beckham has been true.

"He's a worker," Van Pelt said about the receiver. "He loves football. He's smart as hell. He's just been a model guy this offseason."

Van Pelt said Beckham has been a full participant in the voluntary offseason program, which has been conducted through video calls and virtual communication due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out the best photos of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason by team photographer Matt Starkey

In the meetings, Browns coaches have primarily emphasized details about the offensive playbook from new coach Kevin Stefanski. That's about all they can do until the Browns can return to Berea for on-field practice, and Beckham has always been involved in the discussions. 

Van Pelt attributes that to Stefanski. Throughout offseason interviews, players have expressed an admiration for his attitude toward working with players and how he's made efforts to build team chemistry despite the work-from-home status of the league.

It's also encouraged players to heed into his new offensive philosophies, and that includes Beckham.

"He's all in," Van Pelt said. "He's bought in. He's been there, and it's awesome. It's good to have him there. Everybody's attendance has been outstanding, and that's a tribute to Kevin and the guys that are buying into the program."

Beckham's involvement during the unique offseason will be crucial to the development of quarterback Baker Mayfield, who plans to lean on Beckham to bounce back from a disappointing 6-10 finish last season. The production between Mayfield and Beckham only came in bursts, but Mayfield believes Beckham's injury played a role in the lack of consistency.

Mayfield is confident that with a clean and healthy season ahead, his output with Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who was also injured for most of last season, will increase in Year 2.

"(The injuries) definitely hindered them," Mayfield said in a video interview last week. "Physically, obviously, but the mental part of it and the frustrations that came from that, I think, affected it more. If you don't feel like you're able to play at a certain level, that's frustrating."

Van Pelt believes a bounce-back year is ahead, too, based on Beckham's dedication to team meetings and willingness to embrace a new playbook built to make the most of the top offensive weapons on the Browns.

"He's been outstanding," Van Pelt said. "I can't wait to get him in the building and get him on the field."

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