BEREA — Baker Mayfield isn’t changing his approach for his NFL debut.
If it ain’t broke …
Mayfield, the No. 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner, is scheduled to see extensive action Thursday night against the New York Giants in New Jersey in the Browns’ preseason opener. After starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor exits after a series of two, Mayfield will play at least two quarters, coach Hue Jackson said.
“For me it’s not looking at it like I have to handle it any different,” Mayfield said Tuesday. “I still want to go out there and still lead our offense and lead our team.”
Mayfield said he’s had the date on the calendar circled for a while, but don’t confuse his excitement with jitters.
“Played this game for a long time, I don’t get nervous,” he said. “So I’m going to say I’m not going to have to worry about that part.
“Anytime I get the chance to play ball, yeah, I get excited, but however much I play I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity, that’s for sure.”
The intensity of training camp was elevated Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage, and the preseason will be an even bigger bump. Mayfield led a touchdown drive to start the scrimmage, then struggled when he went up against the first-team defense, throwing his first interception of camp.
“You get people hyped up, you actually get some contact in, can you focus in and do your job when there are distractions around?” he said. “So I think we handled the first one pretty well but it definitely can go a lot better.”
Taylor was a sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2011 and remembers his first preseason game against the Eagles.
“It was just faster,” he said. “And it was definitely fun.”
His advice to Mayfield and the rest of the rookies is simple.
“Go out there and trust in your instincts,” he said. “You’re here for a reason, so go out there and play ball.”
Mayfield has looked good throughout camp with a quick release and accurate throws. Despite Jackson saying Mayfield’s exceeded expectations, he remains committed to opening the season with Taylor as the starter. There’s been no competition for the job, and Mayfield said it hasn’t been a challenge handling the role after going 33-6 as the starter at Oklahoma.
“It’s how I’ve always handled it, whatever opportunity I get, to make sure I get better I need to take advantage of that,” he said. “So right now that’s doing second-team reps. Whatever I can do to learn and keep getting reps, that’s the best thing.”
The Browns didn’t move receiver Josh Gordon off the reserve/did not report list after discussing the options but will work with him and the league to make sure he isn’t penalized for missing a contractual deadline to report to training camp.
The 30-day deadline before the start of the season passed Tuesday with Gordon still absent, meaning he wouldn’t receive an accrued season toward free agency. But there’s an exemption in the rule for special circumstances.
Gordon, with a long history of addiction, said he would miss the start of camp as part of his “health and treatment plan.” He’s scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the season if he plays at least six games.
Jackson said he didn’t know if Gordon would return soon.
“Josh is still doing what he needs to do and he’ll be back at some point in time,” he said.
Taylor was asked about the organization’s belief Gordon will return this year.
“I hope he does, but we can’t necessarily plan around that,” he said.
Taylor said he’s reached out to Gordon and that receiver Jarvis Landry has “talked to him a couple times.”
Taylor and Mayfield both said they’d be asleep when asked if they were excited for the premiere of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday night. It sounded like part of their playbook.
“I don’t really watch much TV,” Taylor said. “I’ve never seen ‘Hard Knocks.’ It’s an opportunity for us to showcase our team, but I’m here to win football games.”
What if he’s the star of the show?
“That’s fine,” he said.
Jackson was more enthusiastic and said he hoped the fans would gain insight into the team.
“I think ‘Hard Knocks’ is gonna tell a story about a team that comes to work every day, works hard, that has a vision, that has a purpose with everything they do,” he said. “Everything we do is towards winning and that this group has got their head down and they’re working.”
Taylor lost one of his starting wideouts with the trade of Corey Coleman on Sunday but has put his faith in the front office.
“Decisions are made for the better of our team. You have to trust the management staff, and I do that fully,” Taylor said. “It’s part of the game. Corey’s a great kid. Management and the coaches felt different as far as whether he needed to be here or not.
“I wish him the best, but I’ve just got to continue to keep building chemistry with the guys that are here.”
Fullback Danny Vitale didn’t practice after injuring his calf Monday.
** Also sidelined were: defensive tackle Trevon Coley (ankle), right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf), linebacker Justin Currie (concussion), tight end Seth DeValve (quadriceps), defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale (calf) and offensive lineman Desmond Harrison (toe).
** Mayfield hit rookie sixth-round receiver Damion Ratley on a long go route down the left sideline.
** Cornerback TJ Carrie had a nice breakup in the end zone.