Ravens large receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has all the time operated with the premise that his season in Baltimore is about the place it ends, not essentially the place it’s within the second. In his usually contemplative method, it’s concerning the journey and the vacation spot.
Over the previous few weeks, the 2 have lastly began to come back collectively.
That merging has been important. In his previous three video games, Beckham has discovered a rhythm with quarterback Lamar Jackson in addition to a stage of pace that he had but to show since becoming a member of the Ravens, with 10 catches for 212 yards and two touchdowns in that span. That included 116 yards in Baltimore’s 34-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night time, probably the most he’s had in a sport since Week 2 in 2019 when he was with the Cleveland Browns.
It was in opposition to the Browns on Sunday that Beckham additionally confirmed off his wheels, taking a brief slant and turning it right into a 40-yard landing. On the play, he hit 19.2 mph, based on Next Gen Stats, his quickest pace as a ball provider since Week 14 in 2021.
The week earlier than, in a 37-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks, Beckham had 5 catches for 56 yards, together with his first landing as a Raven courtesy of backup quarterback Tyler Huntley after Jackson had been pulled amid a blowout.
With tight finish Mark Andrews possible out for the remainder of the season after struggling a extreme ankle damage in opposition to the Bengals, performances like those Beckham has had in current weeks will turn out to be extra paramount. He’s lastly having the form of affect the Ravens had hoped for however weren’t certain he might ship once they signed him to a one-year, $15 million deal within the offseason.
“Early on in the season, I was hurt, and I just couldn’t be myself,” Beckham stated Thursday. “I didn’t have the explosion; I couldn’t move the way that I wanted to. I don’t think people really knew what I was dealing with.”
Initially, neither did the Ravens.
When Baltimore signed Beckham final April, it wasn’t even certain how properly the 31-year-old receiver who tore his ACL in October 2020 and once more in February 2022 might even run. The transfer was executed partly to appease Jackson, who was embroiled in his personal contract negotiations and had requested the group signal Beckham, and partly as a result of the transcendent star was the form of participant who would promote jerseys and tickets.
Still, the Ravens favored sufficient of what they noticed once they have been one among a number of groups Beckham labored out for final March and hoped for the most effective.
“We saw everything we needed to see, knowing that it’s going to just improve,” normal supervisor Eric DeCosta stated in April. “That’s the thing — when a guy has a serious injury in general, it only gets better. It may take time; sometimes it takes longer, but it only gets better. What we saw was extremely encouraging.”
It’s additionally maybe why when the two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl choice injured his ankle on the opening drive of the Ravens’ Week 2 sport in Cincinnati and later exited for good within the third quarter, alarm bells weren’t going off contained in the group’s Owings Mills headquarters — or in Beckham’s head.
“The best thing that DeCosta and [coach John Harbaugh] did [was when] we were playing the Bengals last time, and they were like, ‘It’s a long season. Just sit down,’” Beckham stated. “That changed the entire trajectory of my season. I had the time to get my legs underneath me, and we’re just trying to go up from here.”
Still, the ankle damage Beckham suffered in Week 2 ended up protecting him out of the subsequent two video games. One of these was a loss to the Indianapolis Colts wherein the Ravens led within the fourth quarter earlier than shedding in extra time.
When Beckham returned in Week 5 in opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he continued to battle together with his chemistry with Jackson and wasn’t explosive because the Ravens once more misplaced regardless of main within the fourth quarter. Beckham had simply two catches on 4 targets for 13 yards, and he was unable to interrupt free from rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. on a brief fade route ultimately zone within the fourth quarter that ended up being intercepted.
The following week in opposition to the Tennessee Titans in London wasn’t quite a bit higher with two catches for 34 yards, in addition to a dropped move and a scuffle after the sport with Titans defensive finish Jeffrey Simmons. In Week 7 in opposition to the Detroit Lions, Beckham had 5 catches for 49 yards, however the subsequent week he was held with out a catch in opposition to the Arizona Cardinals. It was simply the second time in his eight-year profession that he didn’t report a reception, although he was at the very least the beneficiary of two move interference calls and a holding penalty.
Then got here the sport in opposition to Seattle. Though it wasn’t Jackson who threw the landing move to Beckham, the quarterback celebrated with the receiver after the play, which fittingly featured a route named “Odell” that the Ravens had put of their playbook final season. It additionally got here on the receiver’s birthday.
“It’s just been a long time coming — a lot of hard work,” Beckham stated. “It’s just a step in the right direction.”
And for the Ravens, maybe just the start of the journey to the place Beckham needs to finally assist take them.