The Cleveland Browns made the correct, albeit still somewhat difficult, decision on Wednesday to sit quarterback Baker Mayfield for Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos.
The team will now turn to veteran quarterback Case Keenum to give Mayfield’s ailing left shoulder some extra rest.
Keenum will start for Week 7 as Baker Mayfield nurses a shoulder injury.— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 20, 2021
Mayfield has been playing with a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder since injuring it in Week 2 against the Houston Texans. He reaggravated the injury on Sunday when he dislocated the same shoulder while being sacked by Arizona defensive end J.J. Watt, one of five sacks Mayfield took on the day.
That led to enough inflammation in the shoulder that everyone involved - both the team doctors and Mayfield’s personal shoulder specialist, Dr. Orr Limpisvasti - decided that having the extra time off would do him some good.
Per league source, Baker Mayfield was advised against playing Thursday by both team doctors and the 2nd opinion he got back Tuesday. Mayfield, however, could return as soon as Oct. 31 vs. Steelers if the inflammation in the shoulder goes down #Browns— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 20, 2021
This will be the first start that Mayfield will miss since taking over the starter’s role in Week 4 of the 2018 season, a string of 51 consecutive regular-season games that is second-longest in franchise history behind Brian Sipe, according to Dan Murphy, the club’s director of football communications.
Most consecutive starts by a QB in @Browns history:— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) October 20, 2021
1. Brian Sipe 70 (1978-82)
2. Baker Mayfield 51 (2018-21)
As for Keenum, who has not started a game since late in the 2019 season, he gave off the appearance that he is ready for the moment during a media session on Friday (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“I feel very ready. I have been ready. You do not have to get ready if you stay ready, and I have been ready since I got here. I am excited. I am ready.”
Prior to joining the Browns as a free agent in 2020, Keenum made 62 starts while playing for the Houston Texans, St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team. He has completed 62.3 of his passes with 75 touchdown passes to 47 interceptions, and holds an 85.1 quarterback rating, according to clevelandbrowns.com.
His best season came in 2017 while working with head coach Kevin Stefanski in Minnesota. That year Keenum helped the Vikings go 11-3 in his 14 starts and a spot in the NFC Championship Game, while throwing for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.