Browns Notes: Baker Mayfield to start against Lions

(Most) Starters to get the preseason finale off

Daryl Ruiter
August 27, 2018 - 4:04 pm
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks for an open receiver against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Baker Mayfield will start his first NFL game Thursday night at Detroit, the preseason finale, and most of the starters will get the night off too.

“I am not playing the starters in this game,” head coach Hue Jackson said Monday. “They will not play. Specific guys will play and play quite a bit, and then we will let some other guys finish the game.”

Tyrod Taylor’s dislocated left pinkie and bruised his left-hand Thursday night against the Eagles made the decision easy for Jackson, who has made it a point in his 3 years as head coach to prevent as many injuries as possible by not risking the health of his key players.

“I do not want to take a chance,” Jackson said. “Our guys, the best team that we are going to have for the 2018 season is going to be the team that we will trot out against Pittsburgh. I think that I have to keep them healthy and get them ready to go.

“I think that I have seen enough in practice and in watching a lot of the tape. There are some things that we need to get better at. There are some things that we have to improve on. I think we can do those things in practice and get better at them.”

Mayfield will likely play the entire first half against the Lions according to Jackson.

One starter who will play is right guard Kevin Zeitler after he missed nearly 3 weeks with a calf injury.

“He is practicing now. I would hope to get him to play a little bit this week because I think that he needs it,” Jackson said. “We will just kind of go from there. I feel good about the five starters that we will put out there. It is going to be the best five guys that we can put out there. I feel good about the line heading in[to the season].”

Zeitler returned to practice on Saturday after suffering the injury on Aug. 2.

“I have always taken a lot of pride in practice and always being there with my guys so this year has been a real new experience for me,” Zeitler said. “As much as that sucked, it was a blessing as we were able to build depth. (OL) Spencer (Drango) was able to get a lot of reps, we were able to rotate guys and get different looks. I think in the end, it will only make us stronger.”

Receiver Antonio Callaway, who was elevated to a starting role following the Corey Coleman trade but is returning from a groin injury, will also play.

“He needs to get back to where he was,” Jackson said. “When you are out a little bit, you have to push yourself through. You have to get back.”

On blast – Jackson did not seem thrilled when asked about defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' comments Sunday about rookie cornerback Denzel Ward.

Williams criticized Ward for his tackle of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz that resulted in him being injured on the play, and subsequently being diagnosed with back spasms. Williams, who clearly was trying to send a message through the media to the No. 4 overall pick, also blasted Ward multiple times for his inability to stay healthy since being drafted.

“Gregg does not get to do just what he wants to do," Jackson said. "We will work through all of that. Our players, there is a certain way that we do want them to tackle because of size, structure and all of that. We do not want a guy to get hurt or anything like that. I am sure that Gregg does advise. We do not need to do all of that stuff in the media.”

Good on paper – The Browns clearly don’t feel like a team coming off an 0-16 season. They don’t look it or act like it either.

Running back Duke Johnson, who has suffered through an NFL-record worst 4-44 stretch since being picked in the third round of the 2015 draft, agrees with linebacker Christian Kirksey about having high hopes for 2018.

“We haven’t reached our full potential as a team yet,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of weapons on offense and with Josh just coming back we still have [to] catch him up to speed, get him on the same page with Tyrod and we’ll go from there.

“We definitely have the talent on paper and it’s just about going out there and performing.”

Poker face – Johnson, who is expected to work in the slot in addition to catching footballs out of the backfield, didn’t catch a pass in the preseason.

“It is the preseason. Can’t show all of our cards and show all of what we are working on,” Johnson said. “Preseason for me is just going back out there and getting my feet back under me, seeing how I feel. Just making plays. We work a lot in practice, but we are not going to show everything in preseason. A little something to come.”

Johnson has run for 43 yards on 8 carries this preseason.

Injury report – WR Josh Gordon (hamstring), TE Seth DeValve (quad), Myles Garrett (day off), OL Kevin Bowen (knee), Damarious Randall (knee), FB Danny Vitale (calf), DT Trevon Coley (ankle) and LB Genard Avery (hip) did not practice.