BEREA — Baker Mayfield didn’t lose his sense of humor after his left shoulder temporarily popped out of place Sunday in the win over the Texans.
“It’s good,” he said Wednesday. “Hanging in there. Attached still.”
He kept his swagger, too, bragging about a block he threw against cornerback and former teammate Terrance Mitchell on a reverse.
“I buried him with one hand,” Mayfield said during the game, as he was mic’d up for NFL Films. “I don’t need the left anyway.”
Mayfield will get treatment on the non-throwing shoulder throughout the week but was a full participant in practice Wednesday and will take the field Sunday against the Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium for his 50th straight start, including two in the playoffs.
He earned points with teammates for bravery and unselfishness for taking on Texans safety Justin Reid on a tackle attempt after an interception. Mayfield was in obvious pain and went to the locker room before quickly returning.
“I wasn’t surprised, but definitely reaffirmed just how much of a tough S.O.B. he is,” tight end Austin Hooper said. “When you see a guy like that do that, it just does something for the team. You got your leader on the team putting it all on the line like that, you have no excuse not to, as well.
“So that was awesome for the entire organization to see exactly what kind of competitor, what kind of person Baker is, what kind of leader he is. And it all starts at the top with him. So he sets a precedent so no one else can have an excuse now. I mean, if our quarterback’s out there throwing guys to the ground with one arm, what excuse do you have?”
The appreciation was joined by trepidation.
“Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” linebacker Malcolm Smith said. “Nah, he wants to get the guy down and I respect that because you’ve seen otherwise where guys just let him score and that sucks, so I definitely appreciate it.
“We’ll definitely have to work on the technique a little, maybe not sacrifice that part of your body, but I’m glad it wasn’t his throwing arm.”
Mayfield, who leads the NFL with an 81.6 completion percentage, didn’t miss a snap against the Texans but noticed that quarterbacks around the NFL left games with injuries: Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, Chicago’s Andy Dalton (knee), Indianapolis’ Carson Wentz (both ankles) and Houston’s Tyrod Taylor (hamstring).
“I mean, Sunday was I think just one of those days in the league where a lot of guys went down coincidentally on the same day,” Mayfield said. “But, yeah, there’s definitely plays when I could slide. Now when it comes to having to get a first down and all that, I’m not going to change the way I play, because my mentality is always whatever I can do to help a team win.”
Kevin Stefanski coaches quarterbacks to turn the defender with the ball toward the middle of the field and then get him on the ground.
“There are different techniques that you can use,” he said. “That was kind of an awkward play. I think their defender looked to single him out, which, listen, he is trying to get him on the ground so you become defenseless in that moment.
“If the ball is going the other way, you have to get him on the ground.”
Mayfield went 10-for-10 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown after the injury as the Browns rallied to win 31-21. He also scrambled for a 5-yard touchdown on the drive after the interception.
He finished the day with five scrambles for 13 yards and didn’t slide once. He also had the one-armed block.
“Yes, we do not want to take the competitiveness out of this but do not foresee him as a lead blocker very often,” Stefanski said.
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“I think on the interception it’s more so just be careful on how it’s going,” Mayfield said. “There’s definitely plays where a defense is going to try to knock you out of the game, that’s just the nature of the game. Just be careful.”
The counter to doing everything in the moment to help the team win is the long-term view that his availability is vital to the team’s success. Running back Kareem Hunt said Monday he was nervous after Mayfield was hurt and told him to let Hunt make the tackles.
“Well, he needs to get his a– up there and make it happen,” Mayfield said. “Watching the tape, so …
“No, Kareem is funny.”
Hunt had a shot at Reid before Mayfield but overpursued and missed him.
Mayfield plans to spend a lot of time with his physiotherapist in the next few days.
“Just do a good job this week of getting treatment and doing all that, taking care of my body, all the things that I need to,” Mayfield said. “Flying my physiotherapist, his name’s actually Dave Matthews, not the band, but getting him in here and taking care of me.
“He’s a big reason why I’ve been able to survive for the last three years. Just doing all the things that I have been doing and just get ready for Sunday.”
Mayfield was introduced by former Browns quarterback Drew Stanton to Matthews, who worked with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. Mayfield said the treatment happens at the team facility during breaks in the day and at home at night.
“That’s about being a professional, just doing everything you can to be ready for Sundays whether it’s mental, physical and all that,” he said. “So you just have to do what you need to do.
“He’s one of those guys that I’m fortunate to have. It takes a village, and he’s one of those key pieces for me.”