The Cleveland Browns will start Case Keenum in their season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals and the veteran quarterback had nothing but good things to say about Baker Mayfield.
Keenum spoke to the media about what he’s seen from Mayfield this season as he’s battled through multiple injuries, calling it a “small miracle” that he was able to get on the field some weeks.
“I did have a front row seat to one of the gutsiest, toughest performances of a quarterback playing in a season that I have ever seen, culminating in the other night and how he battled his tail off to really bring us back into that game and keep us in it,” Keenum said on Wednesday, January 5. “I think his entire season he was battling a lot of things. He is one of the toughest guys I know, and he is a fighter. He came to fight every single day and pushed through a lot of adversity just to get on the field on Sundays.”
Keenum didn’t want to speak on behalf of Mayfield in terms of his confidence, saying it was unfair to ask him that.
“I will let you guys talk to him as far as his mind and stuff like that,” Keenum said. “That is not a fair question to ask me. That is probably all I will answer on that one.”
He was also asked if he was surprised that the Browns did not start him and allow Mayfield to rest in more weeks. Considering Keenum is one of the highest-paid backups at the league — making $6 million per year — it’s a valid question.
“Sorry, I am not going to answer that one either,” Keenum told reporters, rightly declining to cause any kind of controversy.
Mayfield Limited by Injuries Down the Stretch
Whether he’ll admit it or not, the injuries limited Mayfield, especially as the season waned on. He never seemed to find his accuracy after the brace went on his non-throwing shoulder due to a torn labrum he suffered in Week 2.
In the three games he played in following the Browns’ bye week, Mayfield passed for 597 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Browns went 1-2 in those games and missed out on the playoffs.
“Nobody wanted this, the way this has gone, Baker for sure,” Keenum said. “Nobody really wanted this, but it is tough. It is a tough football league. That is kind of the way it is sometimes.”
Mayfield is set to have surgery as soon as possible on his shoulder.
Keenum Excited to Get Second Start
Keenum will draw his second start of the year when the Browns take on the Bengals. He previously started against the Broncos, leading Cleveland to a 17-14 win. He was in line to start a crucial matchup against the Raiders but was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the game, along with Mayfield.
“That was really disappointing,” Keenum said. “The whole week was again a whole different week than any of us have ever experienced. To sit there on the couch, feel pretty good and have to watch my team play, it was tough.”
Cleveland is a six-point favorite against the AFC champion Bengals, who will be missing Joe Burrow for the game.