- The Cleveland Browns have ruled out starting quarterback Baker Mayfield from Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos.
- Mayfield is suffering from a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
- Case Keenum will get the start in place of Mayfield.
The Cleveland Browns are suffering from a number of player injuries but none are more significant than starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is suffering from a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder and he continues to be evaluated as to his longer term condition. Initially, Mayfield had hoped to play despite his injury but mid-day on Wednesday it was announced that he would not be available for Thursday Night’s game against the Denver Broncos. Case Keenum will get the start in place of Mayfield.
Mayfield was a ‘limited participant’ in practice on Tuesday. Earlier in the day on Wednesday, he had said that it would be his call as to his participation in Thursday night’s game. He said that he planned to play, but only if he could do so without hindering the team’s performance:
“Only I know how my body feels. If anyone questions whether I am hindering the team and going out there injured, that’s just not right. It’s my decision. I get to say whether I am able to play or not, and that’s just how it is.”
Mayfield initially suffered the injury on September 19 against the Houston Texans while trying to tackle a runner following an interception. He continued to play through the injury with a protective harness but reportedly aggravated the shoulder last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Mayfield underwent an MRI on Monday and was advised against playing by the Browns’ team doctor. He sought a second option–reportedly from Orr Limpisvasti, an orthopedic surgeon who works with the National Hockey League (NHL) Anaheim Ducks. According to ‘sources’, Limpisvasti also advised Mayfield against playing.
Mayfield has dealt with injuries throughout his career but has been remarkably durable. His absence on Thursday will be the first time that he’s missed a game since his rookie season in 2018. Since then, he’s started 51 consecutive regular season games for Cleveland. This is the fourth-longest active streak among NFL quarterbacks.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski announced via a press release that Keenum would get the start:
“Case Keenum will be our starter tomorrow night and we have full confidence in him to lead us and do the things necessary to put us in position to win. Baker fought really hard to play, he’s a competitor and obviously wants to be out there but just couldn’t make it on a short week. We know he will continue to do everything in his power to return as quickly as possible.”
Keenum has started 62 NFL games in his career though this is his first start with the Browns. He was last a starter in 2019 when he led the Washington Football Team in eight games. He’s also started for the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. He has been a member of the Browns since 2020 though he’s seen minimal action completing 6 of 13 passes for 52 yards in four appearances.
Asked by media if he was ready to start on Thursday, Keenum displayed confidence:
“I feel very ready. I’ve been ready. You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready.”
Mayfield’s injury is the latest blow to a banged up Cleveland Browns offense. The Browns will be without running backs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, who are both dealing with calf injuries. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) and starting offensive tackles Jack Conklin (knee) and Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) did not practice Monday or Tuesday and are listed as ‘questionable’ on the team’s injury report. The Cleveland injury situation has made a significant impact on the NFL betting lines for Thursday’s game. The Browns opened as -6 home favorite over Denver but money showed for the road underdog early. It had dropped to -3.5 prior to the announcement of Mayfield’s unavailability. Currently, the Browns are a -2 home favorite with quite a few stores showing at -1.5. The total on the game has dropped from 44.5 to 41.5, 41 or 40.5 depending on the sportsbook.