At some point in the perhaps not too distant future, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be facing a Cleveland Browns team headed by 2018 first-overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, but for now, the intention is for him to ride the bench behind Tyrod Taylor, the quarterback whom the Browns acquired for a third-round pick prior to the draft.
Time will tell if Taylor’s stint in the starting lineup for the Browns lasts for an entire season, but Cleveland seems to be intent on not rushing Mayfield into a starting role before he is prepare for it—or before the team is prepared for it—as they did last season with DeShone Kizer, whom they have already traded away.
For his part, the former Baltimore Ravens draft pick sees himself and the Browns ready to do some special things. “This year in Cleveland, we’ll shock the world”, he said. “I have an opportunity to help change a culture in the same way that I had in Buffalo”.
After signing with the Buffalo Bills, Taylor helped lead the team to its first postseason birth of this century. They made the playoffs as a Wildcard, though they lost in the opening round. They have since drafted Josh Allen, but named Nathan Peterman the starter for the time being. The Bills briefly benched Taylor last season for Peterman in a disastrous move.
“At the end of the day, my focus is on doing whatever it takes to win a game”, he said. “In year eight I’m at peace mentally more than I’ve been in any year before”. The veteran went on to state that “everything that I’ve been through to this point prepares me for the moment I’m at now”.
What that moment is going to look like will be decided largely by the visiting Steelers, who had their way with his Bills a couple of years ago the last time the two teams faced each other. Bud Dupree was among those who brought him to the ground that day and he’ll be looking to do so again, this time from the right side.
And Dupree will be playing across from a rookie undrafted free agent who missed an extended amount of training camp with a toe injury. Across the way, T.J. Watt—who admittedly pretty much missed the summer—will be facing his former teammate, Chris Hubbard, who spoke highly of him recently in comparing him to his older brother, J.J.
The Browns only had to face Stephon Tuitt for two healthy snaps last season. It’s highly unlikely that they get so lucky this time around. And Cameron Heyward will be coming along with him, of course, with Javon Hargrave ready to renew his rivalry with J.C. Tretter at center.