When the Browns practiced on Wednesday, Baker Mayfield was not in the quarterback group as he rested a right knee injury. But Kevin Stefanski said he expects Mayfield to play Sunday. (Cleveland Browns)
Beaten down by three injuries, Baker Mayfield doesn’t practice but is expected to play Sunday
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …
Baker Mayfield conceded he’s “the most beat up in my career” with multiple injuries to his shoulder, right knee and foot. He said it’s been tough mentally dealing with the injuries and the team’s losing. He didn’t practice on Wednesday.
But Kevin Stefanski insists Mayfield will be able to play Sunday and there is no conversation about resting him against the winless Detroit Lions to be healthier for the pivotal back-to-back games against the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens.
“I think we always, with the medical group, make sure that whatever we’re doing, we are making decisions in the best interest of the player. We will never put a player out there who’s not ready. But if he’s ready to go, he will play on Sunday,” Stefanski said.
Last week, Mayfield missed a day of practice because of a foot injury from the Cincinnati game. Before that was the torn labrum and fracture in the humerus bone in his left shoulder. He missed the Denver game with that. Those are still listed on the Browns’ injury report in addition to the contusion to his right knee, caused by an awkward hit and fall in the New England game.
Mayfield said it was tough for him to walk on Monday, but X-rays showed no structural damage to the knee.
“Caught the nerve on the outside of my leg and it made it go numb, so the outside of my knee is sore and tender, but that numbness where you can’t feel your leg is pretty scary,” he said. “I had not had that before, but another new thing for me.”
The quarterback also admitted he has had to change his game because of the injuries.
“There are definitely a couple of plays where I look back and say maybe I would have used my feet here or there, but I have to adapt,” Mayfield said. “Nobody is going to feel bad for you. It is not an excuse. You have to find a way to make a play.”
Making plays has been the problem for Mayfield.
The Browns have lost three of their last four games with Mayfield at quarterback. In the three losses, he has completed 50 of 80 passes for 432 yards, three touchdowns v. two interceptions. His passer rating is 78.75. Of the 50 completions, only 20 have gone to wide receivers in 40 targets for 300 yards and two TDs.
One of those completions was a 57-yard Hail Mary to Donovan Peoples-Jones for a touchdown at the close of the first half against Arizona.
Jarvis Landry has 102 yards receiving over his last three games on 12 catches in 20 targets.
On Tuesday, Landry told media at his turkey giveaway that he doesn’t know why he’s not been getting the ball.
Here is what the coach and quarterback had to say about what’s going on.
Stefanski: “I want all of our guys to touch the ball. I think you guys know how I feel about Jarvis and how important he is to us, and definitely want him to be involved.”
Mayfield: “We will find ways to get Jarvis involved back in the gameplan. There is no doubt about that. He is a tempo-setter for us. He is an extremely good leader and locker room guy for us.”
Mayfield was asked what are his conversations like with Landry during this pivotal point in the Browns’ season.
“There is a lot that we can go left unsaid, but these are the times where we are counting on Jarvis to be the leader he is to grab extra guys in the locker room and to make sure everybody has that focus on this week and to realize that it feels like our season is over, but we are sitting here at .500 with a lot of division ball left and an opponent that is playing pretty well right now and had a lot of close games,” Mayfield said.
“I know their record does not indicate that, but they play really hard. They are led by a head coach [Dan Campbell] who epitomizes toughness, accountability and effort. We have to be ready for that. We are counting on all of our leaders to step up and do those things. That is what you bring these guys in here for. That is a part of the accountability that we talk about is holding that standard and living up to it everyday.”
In defense of Woods
After Myles Garrett threw coordinator Joe Woods under the bus after the New England debacle – “We didn’t make any adjustments on the sideline.” – Woods received support from two players on Wednesday.
Tackle Malik Jackson, who shared the 2015 season in Denver with Woods, was careful not to criticize Garrett, but he seemed to deliver a message to the Big Dawg on the defense.
“Myles feels a type of way and he has the right to say what he has to say,” Jackson said. “Me, personally, I think I just need to be better. I’m looking at myself and see what I can do better. That’s what I’m trying to take care of.
“We’re a team, a brotherhood first. I think finger-pointing is the opposite [of what we need to do]. It’s not panic time. We’re 5-5, seven games left. We have an opportunity to make a run.
“I think his opinion is his opinion and he has his right. Nobody else has said anything. I think it’s an isolated opinion.”
Cornerback Greg Newsome said it’s above his pay grade to opine on whether the defense needs to be better at making adjustments.
“Whatever they call, that’s what I’m going to play, period,” he said. “At the end of the day, we didn’t make the plays out there. Whether it was an adjustment made or not as players we got to find a way to make plays out there. We didn’t get the job done.
“I think we know it’s everybody – it’s not his fault, it’s not just our fault. We’re a collective, we’re a whole.”
Kareem Hunt (calf) worked out with a trainer before Browns practice but is not ready to be designated for return from injured reserve, Stefanski said. The coach had no updates on Nick Chubb being closer to return from COVID-19 protocols. Same with Demetric Felton and John Kelly. He would not rule them out for this week, however …
Garrett was out for personal reasons. Stefanski said he will play Sunday …
Cornerback Troy Hill (neck sprain) is doing better, Stefanski said, but will be out for a while ...
The Browns went 180 degrees against the top two offensive rookies-of-the-year in consecutive games. They held Cincinnati receiver Ja’Marr Chase to his worst game and then were victimized by New England quarterback Mac Jones’ best game. I asked Newsome who should be NFL rookie-of-the-year. “I couldn’t … even tell you,” he said with a chuckle. “They’re both great, both playing great. Mac Jones came in to a starting role in the NFL and Ja’Marr Chase is top 5 in the league in receiving. So pick who you want.” Fine. Mark me down for Jones.