Odell Beckham Jr. is still in a group chat with some former Rams teammates, and there's been some trash talking this week.
The Ravens host the Rams on Sunday in Beckham's first game against Los Angeles since he won a Super Bowl there two seasons ago.
For Beckham, it's going to be emotional. He's happy playing for the Ravens and has a chance to win another Lombardi Trophy in February. But when he reflects on his time spent with the Rams in 2021, Beckham has nothing but fond memories.
"It's a special bond I have with those guys over there," Beckham said. "It's just all love and respect."
Beckham signed with the Rams midway through the 2021 season after being released by the Browns in a acrimonious breakup. The move to Los Angeles rejuvenated Beckham's career. He caught 27 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns in eight games during the regular season, then elevated his play during the Rams' four-game playoff run to the championship with 21 catches 288 yards and two touchdowns.
During a 23-20 victory over the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, Beckham was having a major impact with two catches for 58 yards and a touchdown before tearing his ACL in the second quarter.
The injury made the Super Bowl experience bittersweet for Beckham, and it was his last game with the Rams. After rehabbing and sitting out the entire 2022 season, Beckham signed with the Ravens this past offseason, but he remains indebted to the Rams and Head Coach Sean McVay for rekindling the passion for football.
"McVay kind of was the person through the whole situation…brought me back to loving football and understanding true professionalism and being prepared," Beckham said. "It was one of the best things that's happened in my life.
"There's been other situations where I didn't feel prepared the way that I felt prepared over there. The way they looked at film, dissected each play. I think McVay does an incredible job. We lost three games in a row and I watched him never waver. I've seen some coaches lose and you see a completely different person. He knows, for sure, I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for him."
Having a bye last week gave the Ravens a much deserved mental and physical break after their 9-3 start, and Beckham is geared up to finish the season strong. It's obvious that Beckham is healthier than he was early in the season after a hamstring injury in Week 2 forced him to miss two games.
Beckham's production has been on the upswing, with 13 catches for 246 yards and two touchdowns over the last four games. With Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews out of the lineup following ankle surgery, Lamar Jackson may target Beckham even more as the Ravens make their playoff push.
"Odell will be one of our captains for us in this game and go out there and do the coin toss, and he'll be out there playing," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a heck of a football player. He draws a lot of attention. He's making plays, I think he's really coming into his own health wise right now, getting stronger and faster.
"It's a big road back from where he had to come from. You see it every single week. When there's an explosive element to what he's doing, he can really go. I know he's going to make a bunch of big plays down the stretch."
While with the Rams in 2021, Beckham made a couple big plays against the Ravens. The Ravens were winning, 19-14, when Beckham made a tough 5-yard catch on fourth-and-5 with a minute left. On the next play, he caught a game-winning 7-yard touchdown pass to secure a 20-19 Los Angeles victory at M&T Bank Stadium.
Beckham loves big moments and he'd like to make another game-winning play on Sunday – this time, playing for the Ravens.
"Hopefully I can return the favor to them," Beckham said with a smile. "The bye week, it couldn't have come at a better time. Now you're going into a real season, five games that are setting you up to be in the real-real-season."