Jarvis Landry still looks around the practice fields for his best friend when he steps onto the grass each afternoon.
It's an involuntary search — Landry can't help himself. He's used to having Odell Beckham Jr., his best friend and former LSU teammate, around for every minute of every day, but recently, Beckham's been gone.
He's been away from the facility to undergo surgery and recover from a season-ending knee injury, and the reality of his absence still hasn't fully hit Landry. The duo dreamed about playing in the NFL and winning football games ever since they became best friends in college.
Now, the dream has been put on hold.
"Every day, I'm looking to my left and right, hoping he's out here," Landry said. "I'm just making sure I'm doing my part as a brother and a friend and being there for him. I'm just praying for his speedy recovery, and I can't wait to get him back out on the field."
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In the meantime, Landry is dedicating himself to doing all he can to fill his shoes. He's now the top receiver in a room full of guys ready to help fill the talent gap left from Beckham, and Landry knows that the onus will be on him to make even more game-changing plays every Sunday.
Landry has caught 33 passes for 419 yards. He has yet to find the end zone — a stat that made him close his eyes and grab his head in disgust when asked about it — but he said he remains locked in toward helping the Browns in any way he can.
With Beckham out, the opportunities for Landry figure to grow even higher.
"It hurts my heart so bad, but I'm focused," Landry said when asked about not having a touchdown. "I have to make those plays, and they will come."
Landry has positively impacted the Browns in other ways, though, and that's why he's become one of the brightest players on the team. The examples of Landry's leadership are on display every week — such as when he motioned to tight end Harrison Bryant to get to the line of scrimmage to avoid a penalty on a crucial fourth-quarter no-huddle play in Week 7 — and players across the team look for Landry for guidance and energy.
He can always provide it, no matter how strong his individual performance has been.
"It is great to have a leader in Jarvis Landry in our room," pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea said in a recent interview. "He certainly is somebody the other guys look to. If he brings energy to the practice field and if he brings energy to the meeting room and shows the other guys that is what it is going to be and that is the standard, that is very beneficial to our group. To have great leaders in our room, specifically the receiver room, is something that is very beneficial to us."
Landry felt as though he let the Browns down in Week 8, the first full game without Beckham, when he registered a few rare drops on what could've been crucial catches, including a drop in the end zone after he absorbed a hard hit to the back that knocked the ball loose.
It's worth noting, however, that Landry has played through a rib injury suffered in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts. Landry finished that game and has extended his streak of consecutive games played to 104. He's never missed a game in his NFL career, and he's persevered through multiple ailments and injuries to be on the field every week during his time in Cleveland.
Fortunately for Landry, the Week 9 bye week offered a much-needed break to let the injury heal. He plans to add another game to his streak Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium and make up for the Week 8 drops.
"It definitely was a battle for me, but that was part of the bye week, too," he said. "Being able to get my spirits in a better place and heal up and actually be able to come out here this week, feeling a little bit better."
A healthy and productive Landry will be key for the Browns as they enter the second half of the season and prepare for a playoff race. Landry has said from the beginning he wanted to be a part of a Browns playoff team, and he can help Cleveland achieve that goal by continuing to make big catches in big moments.
He always wanted to do it with Beckham, too. That's why he still catches himself looking around for him at the beginning of each practice.
When Landry quickly remembers that he's not there, he feels an extra kick of energy. He's not going to let his friend down, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the Browns are in good hands without him.
"He would do anything to be out here on the field," Landry said "We all loved the leader that he was, the player that he is and the way that he made plays to help us win these football games because honestly, we could not have really done that without him. For us, we have to just continue to play for each other and play for him. He is a part of this, so that is definitely added motivation."