Cleveland – Baker Mayfield must have given in to the pain.
The Cleveland starting quarterback, who has played the last four weeks with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, will be out of Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos and replacement Case Keenum will start.
“I feel very ready. I was ready, ”said Keenum, who hasn’t started since 2019 with Washington. “You can say, ‘You don’t have to prepare yourself if you stay ready’ and I’ve been ready since I’ve been here. ‘
The Browns (3-3) announced the change on Wednesday, ending speculation whether Mayfield would try to pass an injury to his non-pitching shoulder he sustained last month and which has worsened in recent years. weeks.
“Case Keenum will be our starter tomorrow night and we have full confidence in him to guide us and do the things necessary to put us in a position to win,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski. “Baker fought really hard to play, he’s a competitor and he obviously wants to be there, but he just couldn’t do it in a short week.
“We know he will continue to do everything in his power to come back as quickly as possible.”
Mayfield was limited to training on Tuesday, when he said he still expected to play. However, with the week being short, there was not enough time for the swelling in his shoulder to subside and it was decided early on Wednesday that he would rest, ending Mayfield’s streak of 53 straight starts for Cleveland.
His loss means the Browns’ entire starting backfield has been wiped out by injuries.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the NFL’s top running back tandem, will be out with calf injuries. Cleveland could also miss star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with a shoulder injury, and starting offensive tackles Jack Conklin (knee) and Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) did not practice this week and could be decisions to be made during the game.
“It’s always a big challenge,” Keenum said when asked about the missing key players. “That’s the goal of this league. No one is 100%. After week 1, no one is playing 100%. This is how it goes. That’s the hard truth, that’s why it’s a league of grown men.
As of Tuesday, Mayfield was still planning to play despite a tear in his shoulder affecting his playing and his sleep. The 26-year-old underwent an MRI on Monday and the results were reviewed by shoulder specialist Dr. Orr Limpisvasti, the NHL Anaheim Ducks team doctor, who agreed Mayfield should rest.
Mayfield needs the swelling in his shoulder to go down first before he can strengthen the injured area. By sitting up against the Broncos (3-3), Mayfield will have extra time as the Browns won’t play again until Oct. 31 against Pittsburgh.
The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner hasn’t missed a game due to injury since 2013 when he was a backup at Texas Tech.
“He’s a tough, tough, tough, tough guy,” Keenum said during a Zoom call. “He struggled with some serious pain just to practice and just to get started a bit. … It would take a freight train to keep him out of the game, and I guess he did because this guy is playing through some serious pain.
“It’s impressive to be there. It’s inspiring. I know guys feel the same.
Mayfield has been wearing a harness to stabilize his shoulder since injuring himself on September 19 while attempting to tackle Houston after throwing an interception. He said on Tuesday that the shoulder pain increased after breaking out twice in Sunday’s loss to Arizona.
Mayfield’s completion percentage has plummeted in recent weeks and he has had three turnovers – two fumbles and a pick – against the Cardinals.
Keenum has made 62 career starts in the NFL, most recently for the Washington football team in 2019. The 33-year-old was signed as a free agent before last season by the Browns to support and serve mentor to Mayfield.
He also had a solid grasp of the Cleveland offense after working with Stefanski in Minnesota.
“This is what I was made for,” Keenum said. “That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career, not knowing if I’m going to start until the moment of the game, not knowing who is with me to introduce the players while I call a type of game, so I’m excited.
“What better chance to take advantage of an opportunity than Thursday night football?” I know these opportunities don’t come too often to be a start in this league, only 32 a week, so I’m ready to take advantage of them.
Keenum had his best season in 2017 with the Vikings, passing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He threw just 13 assists in four games in two years with the Browns.
Nick Mullens is expected to be brought up from the practice squad to serve as a replacement for Keenum.
Washington released longtime kicker Dustin Hopkins and signed Chris Blewitt as his replacement.
Hopkins was in his seventh season with the team, but appeared in the hot seat with coach Ron Rivera for several weeks. He missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in a loss last weekend to the Chiefs.
It was only his second missed field goal in 14 attempts this season, but Hopkins also missed two more points on Oct. 3 in Atlanta.
… The Texans have freed veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus.
He was the 26th pick overall in the 2012 draft and has spent his entire career with the Texans. Mercilus was one of the longest-serving players on the squad after most of the squad’s stars were traded or released in recent years.
… The 49ers are optimistic. Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo may return this week from a right calf injury, but don’t expect replacement Trey Lance to return for another week.