Even if he doesn’t play again for a while, Baker Mayfield has given Cleveland a glimpse.
Mayfield threw for 138 yards in a dominant first half for the Browns, who wrapped up the preseason with a 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions on Thursday night. Mayfield completed a 41-yard pass to Devon Cajuste on the first play from scrimmage, and the top overall pick in this year’s draft looked sharp throughout his two quarters directing the offense.
“I just think he improved every week,” coach Hue Jackson said. “I thought tonight, making plays down the field with the ball, the accuracy of the ball. Throwing the ball away in some key situations in the scoring zone I thought was huge. I think he’s growing every day.”
With Tyrod Taylor atop the depth chart at quarterback, the Browns are likely to bring Mayfield along slowly.
This was a nice note for the rookie to finish on before the start of the regular season.
“Came out fast, we set the tone. Played well early,” said Mayfield, who made his first start of the preseason. “We wanted to stress that, and we made sure of that.”
Nick Chubb and Matthew Dayes ran for touchdowns for Cleveland in what was generally a battle of backups.
The Lions closed out an uninspiring preseason under new coach Matt Patricia. They were booed off the field at halftime by the sparse crowd at Ford Field with the score 25-0.
“We obviously didn’t play very well,” Patricia said. “We have to do a better job of coaching and playing, but the positive is that we had some things come up now instead of in the regular season. That gives us a chance to work on them between now and the first game.”
Jake Rudock did little to distinguish himself in the competition to back up quarterback Matthew Stafford.
When Rudock was taken out late in the second quarter, the Lions had been outgained 261-40 and had only two first downs — and both of those came on Cleveland penalties.
Matt Cassel took over at quarterback and led Detroit down the field in the 2-minute drill. Then, defensive lineman Nate Orchard made a leaping interception near the line of scrimmage and ran it back 64 yards for a touchdown with 28 seconds left in the half.
Cleveland went for 2, and the Lions were called for roughing the passer. Detroit was then called for having 12 men in formation. Dontrell Hilliard eventually ran the ball in to make it 25-0.
Dayes had 77 yards on eight carries, although he ended up with an ankle issue. His touchdown came from 42 yards out in the second quarter.
The Lions had 2 yards rushing in the first half.
Rudock returned to the game in the second half, but it was more of the same for Detroit until the Lions finally scored a couple touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“At this point, there’s nothing I can do. I can say that I’m not going to worry about it, but it is human nature,” Rudock said. “There are 90 guys in here, and there are only going to be 53 here. Obviously, I want to be one of them, but I’ve done what I can. Now it is out of my hands.”
The Lions were outscored 68-16 in the first half this preseason.
Orchard’s touchdown could be a big play for the 25-year-old lineman. A second-round draft pick in 2015, he started 11 games that season but has only two starts since.
“He made a play. He made a real big-time football play right before half,” Jackson said. “Everything’s going to be evaluated for our players. The most important thing is we put the right 53 guys on this team.”
The Lions finished the preseason with just two sacks in four games. Christian Ringo had one Thursday just before the 2-minute warning in the second half.
The Browns released linebacker Mychal Kendricks on Wednesday night, hours after he was charged by federal prosecutors in Philadelphia with insider trading.
“It’s a disappointment, any time you lose a good player. He’s a good player,” Jackson said. “He’s not on our team anymore, so I don’t want to talk about him. We’re going to do everything we can to improve the position as we move forward.”
Browns: Linebacker James Burgess left in the first half with a concussion. Linebacker Justin Currie injured his knee.
Lions: Safety Rolan Milligan (chest) was injured on the first play from scrimmage. Running back Zach Zenner (back) and tackle Corey Robinson (foot) were also hurt during the game. Safety Marcus Cromartie went down near midfield in the fourth quarter and walked off gingerly with a hip injury.
Nobody appeared to be kneeling for the national anthem.
Browns: Host Pittsburgh on Sept. 9.
Lions: Host the New York Jets on Sept. 10.