While he did take the field yesterday, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was limited in practice for the team in advance of their big game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which will potentially determine who holds control of the AFC North in the early stages of the season.
The Steelers enter the game with a 4-0 record, the Browns a 4-1 record, with the Baltimore Ravens also sitting at 4-1. At least one team will emerge from this with five wins, barring a tie, and will have the advantage going forward. It’s a game for which you would want to be at full strength.
“I feel good”, Mayfield told reporters after practice. “Just one day at a time right now. Obviously a little sore, but that’s why we’ve got the rest of the week until game day”. The third-year quarterback took a hard shot in the team’s victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
“Kind of the whole right side”, he said of where he’s sore due to the hit that he sustained. “The whole thing’s intertwined. I’m lucky with the way that I landed that it wasn’t directly on my shoulder. I kind of rolled a little bit, so it could have been a lot worse”.
To date, Mayfield has not missed a game in his career due to injury. He has played every snap so far this season in spite of the injury that he sustained on Sunday, and there is no reason to anticipate that he will be anything other than a full go against the Steelers.
That doesn’t mean they won’t come gunning for him, though. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Cameron Heyward said that he is looking to “inflict good punishment” on Mayfield, knowing that he is dealing with an injury. The Steelers have already punished a few quarterbacks this year, including knocking Drew Lock out for several games back in week two.
The Browns’ offensive line has generally done well in protecting Mayfield this year, however, in spite of the injury. He has only been sacked seven times in five games, thanks largely to the offseason additions at tackle in Jack Conklin and rookie Jedrick Wills, their first-round draft pick.
They will be put up to the test facing off against Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. That quartet already has 12.5 sacks on the season for the Steelers, averaging just over three sacks per game within that group, and they’ve gotten 7.5 sacks on top of that from other contributors.
We’ll see how good Mayfield’s ribs feel on Monday morning. Either way, they’re bound to be sore, but hopefully they won’t benefit from the euphoria of a victor’s high.