Browns Veteran Defender Sends Strong Message on Baker Mayfield Matchup

Baker Mayfield

Getty Images Baker Mayfield of the Carolina Panthers.

The Cleveland Browns will see a familiar face in Week 1 when they take on the Carolina Panthers and Baker Mayfield — a matchup that has already been fueled by some off-field statements.

An alleged quote circulating from Mayfield saying he wanted to “eff them up,” as well as a merch drop from the former Browns No. 1 overall pick has added an extra layer of meaning to the already highly-anticipated matchup.

While it’s likely been part of the team’s private conversations as they prepare, publicly they’re treating it as business as usual.

“I feel like we’re going to prepare like we always prepare,” Browns safety John Johnson III said. “It’s Week 1, we’ve got to win the opener, we’ve got to go 1-0, that’s what everyone wants to do, half the teams are going to start with a win, half the teams are going to start with a loss, so we want to be that team that has a W, so our preparation is not going to change.”

Johnson Doesn’t Notice Difference in Mayfield’s Play

John Johnson III: "I just want to go out there and win" | Press ConferenceJohn Johnson III addresses the media on September 5, 2022. #brownsmedia #pressconferences2022-09-05T16:44:23Z

Johnson was also asked about the team’s familiarity with Mayfield as they head into the Week 1 affair. The veteran safety doesn’t feel like Mayfield looks too different from what they saw during his time in Cleveland, despite Mayfield working to improve his mechanics this offseason.

“I do not think so. It is hard to tell,” Johnson said. “He got a few snaps. It is hard to tell. I am going to back and watch some more. Really the preseason is all we have.”

As for who has the extra edge due to familiarity, Johnson is taking his defense.

“I feel like I’m a little biased,” Johnson said. “I’m going to say the defense, it’s one of him and 11 of us, so we can move all around and disguise things and different guys play different spots, so I think we’ve got that.”

Browns Have ‘Good Understanding’ of What Mayfield Brings to Table

Mayfield spent two seasons under Kevin Stefanski but spent last year dealing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder that required surgery in the offseason.

Mayfield had a rough go as he battled through the injury, completing 60.5% of his passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. The Browns publicly committed to him after the season but eyed other options to upgrade the position.

Mayfield has shown his upside in spurts during his career but the Browns feel pretty prepared for what he brings to the table.

“Baker obviously is a player that we know well,” Stefanski said. “He knows us really well, too, in terms of scheme and those type of things. I think our players and our coaches have a real good understanding of his strengths.”

Stefanski did note that sometimes the idea of a defense having familiarity with someone that was previously in-house is not as big of an advantage as perceived.

“A lot of times, I think it is overrated in terms of they know that we know that they know and those type of things,” Stefanski said. “He is a really good football player, and we have to get to work and preparing to play him.”

The Panthers are listed as a 2.5-point home favorite for the opener on September 11.

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