BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr.’s going back to New York seeking revenge.
Not on the Giants.
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver added some spice to the Browns’ upcoming matchup with Jets on Thursday by accusing former Cleveland defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of getting him injured in a preseason game two years ago.
Beckham said he’s been told by Browns players that Williams, who was Cleveland’s interim coach for the final eight games last season and is now the Jets’ defensive coordinator, instructed them to “take me out of the game.”
“I had people who were here when he was here telling us, ‘If you get a chance, take a shot at him. If you can hurt him. I guarantee he’s going to leave the game hurt.’ And stuff like that,” Beckham said. “It’s fine. It’s football, in a sense.”
During the 2017 exhibition game, Beckham jumped to catch a pass and was hit low by former Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun as he came down.
Beckham managed to avoid hurting his knee but sustained a severe ankle sprain, which he claims has led to other leg injuries. But Beckham believes Boddy-Calhoun acted on Williams’ instructions.
“It’s like a known rule, in preseason nobody in the NFL’s really out to do stuff like that,” Beckham said Thursday. “… So you just know who he is. That’s the man calling the plays.”
Beckham initially brought up Williams’ tactics unprompted when he was asked what types of defenses he might face in his return to New York, where he starred for five often-turbulent seasons with the Giants.
Once he heard Williams’ name, Beckham pounced with some damning comments about the assistant.
“The only thing I’m buying (for Monday’s game) is you know probably just got to watch out for the cheap shots and the dirty hits and all the things that he likes to teach,” Beckham said. “That’s pretty much all we’ve got to watch out for. Other than that, I expect the same.”
Beckham’s accusations have shed new light on Williams, who was suspended by the league in 2012 for his role in the infamous “Bountygate” scandal in which the New Orleans Saints were found to have operated a bounty system where players were paid bonuses for hard hits and deliberately injuring players.
Williams has continuously avoided discussing his troubled past. He worked with the Rams before spending two seasons in Cleveland as Hue Jackson’s coordinator before leading the Browns to a 5-3 mark down the stretch last season.
The fiery, 61-year-old Williams was thought to be a front-runner for Cleveland’s coaching vacancy, but the team picked Freddie Kitchens, who began last season as running backs coach before a successful stint as offensive coordinator.
Williams is scheduled to meet with the media Friday.
Beckham said he’s unconcerned about Williams trying to bait him.
“If I was a coach, I would never teach what he teaches, but that’s just him and what he does,” Beckham said. “So there’s no really getting under my skin anymore. It never was the case. There’s a lot of extra stuff that went on that people don’t know about that I was more frustrated with than anything.”
Beckham, who had seven catches for 71 yards last week in his debut for Cleveland while wearing a $200,000 watch, believes the initial injury suffered on the preseason hit by Boddy-Calhoun led to others.
He believes he came back too early from the left ankle injury, which was followed by him breaking the same ankle a few weeks later, undergoing surgery and missing the last 11 games.
Beckham missed 16 games over the past two seasons, and he attributes all his injuries to the original hit in 2017. He suffered a quadriceps tear late last season.
“I probably would’ve blown my knee in that preseason game if I couldn’t have gotten my foot out of the ground, and that high ankle sprain led to the broken ankle on the left and then which led to compensation in many different areas and just kind of like a little spiral, so it’s something that I’ll never forget,” he said.
“It’s something that it changed my life forever.”
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