- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
BEREA — Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been dealing with left shoulder injuries since Week 2, so that has become “kind of the new normal.”
Now he faces the challenge of improving his accuracy while compensating for a sore left heel and a groin injury suffered in Sunday's 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions.
On Wednesday, Mayfield's bruised right knee, hurt on a hit by Matt Judon in a 45-7 loss at New England on Nov. 14, was removed from the injury report and the groin problem was added. Mayfield did not practice even though coach Kevin Stefanski expected him to about a half hour before.
Going into a crucial game in Baltimore on “Sunday Night Football,” Mayfield acknowledged Wednesday that his lower body plays an important part in his throwing motion.
“Yeah, especially for me, kind of an unorthodox throwing motion when it comes to my lower body, just how violent it is,” Mayfield said. “Your lower body is so important in your throwing motion regardless, so it's been definitely a different issue to overcome.
“The shoulder stuff's kind of the new normal, I'm not really worried about that anymore. Still trying to protect it as much as I can, but there's plays to be made with my feet and that's where I've been kind of frustrated.”
Mayfield explained that he’s been bothered by the heel for weeks, but it became more of a problem in a 41-16 victory at Cincinnati on Nov. 7.
“It was one of those things that the day after games, weeks prior to that, but the first time I felt it during the game was in Cincinnati,” Mayfield said. “I don't know if it was turf or grass or what.”
Despite that, Mayfield said, "I’m feeling better and better as the weeks go on. No setbacks so we’ll see.”
He no longer sounded as if he's bothered by the harness he's wearing to keep the shoulder in place after suffering a torn labrum against the Houston Texans on Sept. 19 and fracturing the humerus in that shoulder Oct. 17 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Two key Browns may return at Baltimore: Browns designate Kareem Hunt, Jack Conklin to return from IR; Hunt says, 'I'm definitely thinking I'm going to play'
But going back to the Bengals game, Mayfield has had a new injury crop up each of the last three weeks. In the past two games, he's completed 26 of 50 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions for a rating of 54.5.
He's thrown four touchdown passes in the last four games, but was lifted with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter of the Patriots' rout.
Mayfield was able to get outside the pocket against the Lions, rushing four times for 9 yards with a long gain of 7 yards, but was limping late in the third quarter.
Mayfield said Monday that there was "one shot that I took that kind of reaggravated some things," but Stefanski was encouraged by Mayfield's scrambling.
"I thought he made some nice plays there with his feet," Stefanski said. "Certainly, that adds an element to any offense’s game. You look at some of the big rush attacks around the league, oftentimes there are quarterbacks who are a big focal point of that. Any which way you can gain those yards is a big deal.”
Leading up to the Lions game, Mayfield sat out on Wednesday, was limited Thursday and a full participant on Friday, and Mayfield said that routine helped.
“It did. I still got the mental reps, like we just finished walkthrough doing all that,” he said. “That's this part of the season where a lot of guys are banged up ... it's just so important to be mentally locked in during the week when you might not get some of these reps. And, also, just the mentality of some guy goes down, you've got to have somebody be ready to step up, so we enforce that mental preparation part of the week.”
Mayfield ranks 22nd in the league in passer rating (91.3) and 25th in completion percentage (64.0). Only three starting quarterbacks who have played at least 10 games — Daniel Jones (Giants), Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars) and Justin Fields (Bears) — have fewer than Mayfield's 10 TD passes, and Fields and Lawrence are rookies.
Asked about his accuracy issues, Mayfield said, “There’s some throws that are going to be made, but I’m not going to be perfect throughout the game. Just find ways to make those plays.”
Mayfield on why he didn't talk postgame: Browns' Baker Mayfield cites frustration with performance for skipping interview, expects to face Ravens on Sunday
Browns safety John Johnson III said his confidence in Mayfield hasn't wavered.
“We watch how he practices, he wants to be perfect and that comes with anybody,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys on our team get frustrated when we don’t have the success that we’ve had. But we’ve got the utmost confidence. We see each and every day in practice he’s competing, battling, injuries or not, so we know on Sunday he’s going to give it his best shot. And that’s all we can ask for — put us in a position to win.”
Mayfield knows the Ravens pass defense has always mixed up looks and found multiple ways to apply pressure. He said the Browns are concentrating on the red zone this week.
“You expect it one way, and they’ll bring [pressure] from the opposite side,” Mayfield said. “They’re the No. 1 defense in the league when it comes down to third-down percentage [30.5% allowed] and red-zone percentage [42.9% touchdowns allowed], so that’s what we’re focused on.”
Last season, the Browns handled the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic and went 7-3 down the stretch, finishing 11-5 and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Their 12-6 season ended with a loss at Kansas City in the AFC divisional round.
At 6-5 and last in the AFC North, the Browns’ postseason fate is not nearly as certain. But four of their remaining six games are against division foes, including two consecutive meetings with the North-leading Ravens (7-3) broken up by a Dec. 5 bye.
Mayfield said the lessons learned from 2020 can help the rest of the way.
“Definitely for some of the younger guys and myself included for that stretch run where it was the first playoff push we've actually had,” Mayfield said. “To be able to relate back to that and realize that it's just a one-week-at-a-time mindset, which is what we did last year.
“You have to have that same mindset. But we're sitting in a different spot right now, six games left and one win behind the division leader, which we're playing twice in the next three weeks. We know the task at hand, and we know how we have to attack it.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.
Browns at Ravens
Time: 8:20 p.m. Sunday
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield compensating for lower body injuries