BEREA, Ohio (AP) — One game on the sideline was too much for Baker Mayfield. The Browns’ starting quarterback has no plans to repeat it.
Mayfield tested his injured left shoulder by practicing Wednesday, and if all goes well, he intends to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I think similar to last week, see what I can do and take it day by day,” Mayfield said following the team’s pre-practice walk-through.
He was asked if it’s possible he’ll play on Halloween against the Browns’ dreaded rival.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Mayfield had to sit out last Thursday’s victory — snapping his streak of 53 consecutive starts — over the Denver Broncos with a torn labrum and broken bone in his non-throwing shoulder, an injury he made worse by continuing to play since hurting it in Week 2.
He said after resting his shoulder over the weekend “there was a noticeable difference in range of motion and strength.”
If the injury doesn’t respond the way he or team doctors hope, Mayfield won’t jeopardize his health or the Browns’ chances.
“If it’s a situation where I would hurt the team if I was out there playing, I’m not going to do it,” he said.
Coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield would not be limited in practice and would get the starters’ reps as the Browns (4-3) began getting ready for the Steelers (3-3).
With the harness he’s had to wear since first hurting his shoulder protruding from under his jersey, Mayfield fired passes with plenty of velocity during the early portion of practice open to reporters.
Mayfield understands there are short and long-term risks if he keeps playing. He could take another big hit or worsen it with a fall.
Barring something major, he’s certain he can continue to play the remainder of this season.
“I’m completely confident in that,” he said. “If you go out there, you’re scared, you’re timid, that’s how you really get hurt seriously, so I can’t do that. So like I said, trying to get the strength back and be able to go as close to 100% as possible, and if that’s not the case, then we trust the guys we have out there.”
The 26-year-old initially injured his shoulder while attempting to make a tackle after throwing an interception on Sept. 19 against Houston. He then suffered a tuberosity fracture of his humerus bone when got tripped up by J.J. Watt and bent his arm back during a fall on Oct. 17 in a loss to Arizona.
Mayfield was on track to play last week, but swelling in his shoulder affected his range of motion. Backup Case Keenum made his first start since 2019 and guided the Browns (4-3) to a 17-14 win.
Going forward, Mayfield said it will be paramount for him to protect himself when he runs.
“And slide when I need to,” he said.
Mayfield said he’s not worried about the possibility of doing more damage by coming back this week, adding there have been no discussions about him shutting down this season to let the shoulder heal completely.
“People talk on the outside,” he said. “They don’t know how I feel nor do they decide whether I can go or not.”
Mayfield added it’s not a foregone conclusion he’ll need offseason surgery.
“I’m still taking it day by day to be honest with you because you can do certain things to repair the stuff inside the rotator cuff and strengthen it up,” Mayfield said. “If you examined a lot of people’s shoulders, you’d see a lot of partial tears in those labrums.
“So you can do things to I guess help with that, but we’ll evaluate that when the time needs.”
Along with Mayfield, the Browns were missing several other key players last week. Star running back Nick Chubb and starting right tackle Jack Conklin also sat out but could be back Sunday.
Mayfield said the view from the bench had some perks.
“It’s not tough when you’re winning,” he said. “It’s pretty fun to watch these guys play and play for each other. I think the way those guys fought, it was a good team win. That’s what it’s about.
“It’s finding ways to win no matter what it is, especially on a short week with limited guys. Just plug and play guys and just to watch them succeed.”
NOTES: Like Mayfield, Chubb hopes to play after missing two games with a calf injury. … Conklin is returning after a two-game absence, which means Cleveland’s starting offensive line is intact for the first time since Week 1. … Not practicing Wednesday: WR Jarvis Landry (knee), DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle, groin, knee), CD Denzel Ward (hamstring), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) and S Richard LeCounte, who sat out as discipline for violating an undisclosed team rule.
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