The Cleveland Browns have been non-committal on the status of quarterback Baker Mayfield going forward and there’s a chance he misses significant time recovering from his Week 2 shoulder injury.
Mayfield missed the first game of his career due to injury against the Broncos on Thursday, October 21, although he did everything he could to try to get on the field. The decision now appears out of Mayfield’s hands — despite his pushback — with doctors worried about the former top pick injuring his shoulder further.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Mayfield won’t get back onto the field until doctors feel he can “‘adequately protect himself’ from further injury … and there is always the possibility that more damage to the shoulder will hasten the timeline for a surgical procedure, which would result in a more sustained absence as well.”
Mayfield didn’t like the initial diagnosis from the team and went to get a second opinion. Both agreed he shouldn’t play. When Mayfield spoke with the media earlier in the week, he appeared set on playing — no matter what.
“It’s my decision. I get to say whether I play or not, and that’s just how it is,” Mayfield told reporters on Tuesday, October 19.
Browns Leaving Door Open on Mayfield’s Status
The Browns have a mini-bye week thanks to the Thursday night game and have kept the door open on Mayfield playing next Sunday, October 31, against the Steelers in a key AFC North tilt.
“I do not know the exact answer to that. I would just tell you we are going to continue to listen to the medical staff on this,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters after beating the Broncos. “When he is ready, he is ready.”
Mayfield has been playing with the injury since Week 2, with it getting worse after taking a hit against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6. Mayfield is trying to earn a contract extension but has not looked like a surefire franchise quarterback this season. He’s thrown for 1,474 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions this season, notching a QB rating of 97.8.
Case Keenum Embracing Starting Role
Luckily for the Browns, they have an experienced, veteran backup in Case Keenum. He managed the game perfectly against the Denver Broncos, completing just over 50% of his passes for 199 yards and a touchdown.
“I felt calm and poised,” Keenum said, crediting Stefanski’s play-calling on the first drive as a catalyst to getting him comfortable. “That kind of broke the seal and broke the ice. It was kind of like, ‘Let’s take a breath. Alright, let’s play now.’ I thought we did enough to win the game. It was a great job all around.”
Keenum also got some extra help from Mayfield on the sideline, who was the biggest Browns cheerleader, despite the injury.
“Bake was great. He was locked in,” Mayfield said. “He was very helpful with the pictures and breaking down defenses and what we were getting. Then also the call sheets, getting our two-minute drive that did not go anywhere, but he was great. Locked in.”
Cleveland is listed as a 3-point home favorite next week against the Steelers, per Odds Shark.