The Cleveland Browns don’t play in Texas until Week 4 of the NFL season, but it appears that some members of the team are already assembling in The Lone Star State for some offseason work.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been spending is quarantine in his home state of Texas and it appears that he’s been welcoming some teammates. Tight end David Njoku was seen on Mayfield’s Instagram earlier this week and wide receiver Rashard Higgins tweeted on Tuesday about being in Austin, Texas.
“Austin Texas is beautiful, haven’t been here since elementary,” Higgins wrote.
Starting wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are both doing some intense rehab from offseason surgery, which is likely why they haven’t been linked to the Texas workouts.
Teams would usually be holding Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this month, but the NFL has instead shifted to virtual offseason workouts. That is expected to be the case until at least the end of the month, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Baker Mayfield Eager to Get to Work
Players are not allowed to gather at team facilities, but there is nothing in place preventing them from getting together for private workouts. While speaking to the Browns official site earlier this month, Mayfield shed some light on what the quarantine has been like for him.
“It’s kind of driving me crazy that we’re not even able to get there and all be together,” Mayfield said, “but it’s for the better of everyone and their health and safety. I’m really excited.”
Last year was humbling for Mayfield, to say the least. Mayfield finished the season with 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%) despite having both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry at his disposal.
David Njoku, Rashard Higgins Seeking Redemption
Both Njoku and Higgins got some good news from the Browns the offseason — Njoku having his fifth-year option picked up and Higgins re-signing with the squad.
Njoku is seeking a bounce-back year after suffering a fractured wrist in Week 2 last season. He battled back into the lineup in Week 14, but dropped a ball that turned into an interception, leading him to be a healthy scratch the next two weeks. He suited up for the Browns final game of the season, but played just four snaps. In all, he had just five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown last season.
Njoku — the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft — is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. In his second season, Njoku essentially doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie year, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
It’s a similar story for Higgins, who struggled mightily last year under former head coach Freddie Kitchens.
Higgins was injured in the team’s opener, missing multiple weeks with an MCL sprain. He was never able to get on track after that, finding himself in Kitchens’ doghouse after some comments to media members on why he wasn’t active in Week 5. Higgins managed just four catches for 55 yards and one touchdown all of last year.
In the year prior, Higgins had 39 catches for 572 yards and four touchdowns — all career highs. He also built a strong rapport Mayfield as a security blanket of sorts, with the quarterback speaking up at times about the chemistry he had with Higgins.
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