Baker Mayfield's regular trips to the blue medical tent so far has cost him only one game missed, and it looks like it will stay that way on Sunday. (Associated Press)
It’s full speed ahead with Baker Mayfield Sunday against the Lions
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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 …
Conversation continued about the wisdom of quarterback Baker Mayfield playing against Detroit with injuries to his shoulder, foot and right knee.
But the fact he returned to practice means the Browns are proceeding with plans to send him out there against the winless Lions with two more important games against the Baltimore Ravens next.
“You know, when it gets to game day it seems like he’s the same guy to me,” said guard Joel Bitonio. “But I’ve played through injuries and it’s one of those things where it’s another added element to your game. No matter how much you want to put it on the backburner, there’s some focus on it … [but] you have to play through it. But sometimes there’s plays where you feel it. I know he’s working as hard as he can to try to get 100 percent.”
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt admitted the injuries have restricted Mayfield’s game.
“I think the mobility is definitely affected from it,” Van Pelt said. “It is crappy that he is as sore as he is in multiple areas, but it shows how much he loves his teammates, wants to play and be out there on Sundays. Yeah, it is definitely going to affect him. A lot of the guys are affected with a lot of things in this point of the season. That is just part of the deal with living in the NFL world.”
Van Pelt said the Browns have reduced designed run plays for Mayfield, but he doesn’t think the injuries have impeded his ability to scramble.
When the injury questions persisted, Van Pelt sighed and said, “I know you want to talk about injuries. He has a bunch of them. They all affect everything. It all adds up over time. I think he will be effective on Sunday, effective enough to play.”
Practice squad running back John Kelly was activated off COVID-19/reserve. If nothing else, he’ll provide more stable backup help to D’Ernest Johnson than was the situation in New England.
Kelly’s passing through COVID protocols also was a sign that perhaps Nick Chubb is not far behind and could still be available for Sunday’s game.
“I think things are trending in the right direction for the other guys,” Van Pelt said. “Maybe we’ll get to see them later in the week as the protocols run out for those guys. We’re hoping.”
If Chubb clears in time, Van Pelt doesn’t see any reason he wouldn’t play without practicing for two weeks.
“Guys come off the COVID list and play all the time across the league,” he said. “If he’s available, I’m sure we’ll be very smart with how we handle his carries. He’s obviously a big part of what we do offensively.
For what it’s worth
It’s obvious all year the Browns struggle to come from behind when they’re down because of their insufficient passing game. They failed to pull out tight games in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs, Chargers and Steelers when their passing game was stymied.
It just sounded sobering when Van Pelt conceded it.
“That is not when we are at our best is when we have to throw the football, for whatever reason,” he said. “When we are rolling is when we are play-action, run-action and keeper game, and it all ties in together.
“I think that is anybody’s offense. Anytime you are down and having to come back, it makes it tough and that is how you are built. We are built to run the football and take what comes off of that.”
Out of the Woods
Criticism from Myles Garrett after the New England game rolled off defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ back.
Woods said he was talking to Garrett about possible adjustments while walking off the field together at halftime.
So did it disappoint him to hear Garrett say after the game the defense didn’t make any adjustments on the sideline?
“No, it’s just one of those things,” Woods said. “They made a lot of plays on us, especially in the second half. When you get beat like that everybody’s looking for what went wrong.
“I have a great relationship with Myles. He has the respect of all the players on defense. There’s nothing going on within the building, anything of that nature. I talked to him today. Everything’s good. Just frustrating losing the way we did.”
Garrett returned after being excused from Wednesday’s practice for personal reasons …
Besides Mayfield, receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) returned to practice. But that was neutralized by receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) behind held out …
Tight end David Njoku’s drop in the end zone in New England didn’t hurt the Browns because Austin Hooper made his catch on fourth down two plays later for the team’s only touchdown. Njoku initially thought he held the ball long enough for the TD before losing it, but he was still upset about it this week. “It was a very lazy play on my behalf. There’s no excuse for that. So now I’m playing like my hair’s on fire,” he said. “I have to secure the catch.” …
Woods said he didn’t plan any major lineup changes on defense, but he did admit that rookie defensive tackle Tommy Togiai earned more play time. Togiai had a season-high 22 snaps against the Patriots and was credited with two tackles. “We’ll continue to bring him along. He’s a young guy, still learning, but he plays with a lot of effort. I think he has a bright future with us.”