CLEVELAND — Quarterback Baker Mayfield is not one to sit out practices, not even if he is still smarting from an injury sustained in the Cleveland Browns’ season-opening 43-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland last Sunday.
Despite being just two days removed from needing X-rays on his throwing hand, the second-year quarterback was on the field for Tuesday’s practice as the Browns look to even up their record with next Monday’s game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“Baker is fine,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said following Tuesday’s practice. “He is good.”
Mayfield completed 25 of his 38 attempts for 285 yards and one touchdown, but threw interceptions on three drives in a four-possession stretch during the second half, the last of which was returned by Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler 38 yards for a touchdown with 3:02 to play in the fourth quarter.
Mayfield was sacked five times for 41 lost yards.
“He’s relentless,” Kitchens said. “He’s a competitor, just competes.”
That lesson was something Kitchens learned about Mayfield after he made his NFL regular-season game in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor in a Week 3 game against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2018.
Mayfield entered the game, completed 17 of his 23 attempts for 201 yards and led the Browns on four scoring drives, all of which combined to give Cleveland a 21-17 victory over the Jets on Thursday Night Football.
And that was just the beginning.
After taking over the first-team offense in the second quarter of that Week 3 win over the Jets, Mayfield completed 310 of his 486 attempts (63.8 percent) for 3,725 yards and an NFL-record 27 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.
Although Mayfield does not get official credit for the victory over the Jets because he came on in relief, the first-year quarterback guided the Browns to seven wins and the greatest single-year turnaround in franchise history.
Individually, Mayfield set franchise records for the most passing touchdowns and yards by a rookie, and his 3,725 yards rank as the sixth-best single-season total in team history, regardless of years of service. Additionally, Mayfield had three of the top five passing yards games by a rookie, as well as the fourth-most accurate season of any Browns quarterback ever.
Under Kitchens’ direction, Mayfield completed 180 of his 263 attempts (68.4 percent) for 2,254 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Mayfield averaged 281.75 yards and 2.375 touchdowns per game with Kitchens calling the plays for the final eight games of the 2018 regular season.
“May not always know the talking back then, didn’t really know what the reads were and stuff like that, but he just made stuff happen,” Kitchens said of Mayfield. “One of the best things that I can say about a person is just being a relentless competitor, and I think that is what he is.”