Despite aggravating the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says he’s still preparing to play in Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos. A league source told ESPN that the Browns also hope the franchise quarterback will avoid season-ending surgery.
“I work with my physiotherapist Dave [Matthews] and do everything I possibly can. After that, it’s pain tolerance and wanting to be out there for my guys,” Mayfield said of his left shoulder.
“Obviously if I was in a physical state where I wasn’t able to play to the best of my abilities and I was hurting the team, I wouldn’t do that because I care about winning. … Only I know how my body feels. If anyone questions whether I’m hindering the team and going out there injured, that’s just not right. It’s my decision. I get to say whether I’m able to play or not, and that’s just how it is.”
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Mayfield suffered the shoulder injury — initially reported as a partially torn labrum — on Sept. 19 while attempting to make a tackle after an interception. He continued to play through it, wearing a harness on the shoulder for support. But Mayfield aggravated the shoulder injury Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“It was actually completely torn. Other stuff that was frayed within it,” Mayfield said of the original injury. “With shoulder injuries like that, you try and stabilize it, strengthen the muscles and ligaments around it to where you feel that stability and it doesn’t have the likelihood of popping out nearly as much.”
Mayfield is still waiting on a second opinion from his doctor. That doctor is expected to review Mayfield’s MRI scans later Tuesday.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski called Mayfield a fighter but said it’s still too early to make a call on who will be under center Thursday. “With Baker, with all our players, they have significant input in these decisions because it is their body. I just rely on what they say, I rely on the medical staff when making those determinations.”
If Mayfield doesn’t play Thursday, backup Case Keenum will get the start in his place. But Stefanski cautioned that with a short week, practice reps won’t determine who starts at quarterback.
Regardless, the Browns won’t have Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, who Stefanski said will miss a second consecutive game with a calf injury. With running back Kareem Hunt placed on injured reserve Tuesday with his own calf injury, D’Ernest Johnson will get his first career start at running back. Johnson has three carries for 11 yards this season.
The Browns have also been without starting tackles Jack Conklin (knee) and Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) due to injuries. Though neither was expected to practice Tuesday, Stefanski said it remained possible for either or both to play Thursday. Stefanski said the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who injured his right shoulder Sunday, would be determined later in the week. Cleveland’s other Pro Bowl wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, was designated for return from injured reserve last week but has yet to be activated. Stefanski said he wasn’t sure whether Landry would be ready for Thursday, either.
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