BEREA, Ohio — After keeping him sidelined for the first two preseason matchups, head coach Kevin Stefanski announced Friday that quarterback Baker Mayfield will take the field in the final game before the regular season.
Mayfield, along with other "select starters," will play on Sunday against the Atalanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Stefanski wouldn't disclose the specifics of which other starters will play or how long Mayfield will be on the field.
"We have a plan but I want to see how it goes," Stefanski said.
Stefanski said there will be starters who don't play and those decisions will be based on the reps he and his coaches feel a player needs.
"There are other guys we are going to hold out, we're just making decisions individually based on who needs to get some reps. Making those decisions based on these practice reps, based on the joint practice reps, based on game reps so we'll hold some other guys out," Stefanski said.
The Browns kept a majority of their starters off the field through the first two games in an effort to conserve their players and maintain their health ahead of the regular season.
But with Sept. 12 right around the corner, playing Mayfield and other starters cannot only get them ready for the season but help show the coaching staff the abilities of other non-starters still working to make the 53-man roster. That benefit couldn't be overlooked amid the risk of injury, which exists in any football setting, Stefanski said.
"I think it's football. We try to be smart about everything we do, that's why I think the joint practices are so important because it's a controlled environment where our 1s got close to 60 reps versus their 1s in a controlled environment," Stefanski said. "The way you practice and then the way you play is similar and it's all good work is the way I look at it."
The final game could be a make-or-break for several fringe players, Stefanski said.
"I think it's been such a competitive camp for these roster spots and I'm so appreciative of the way the guys have worked. Those conversations are ongoing so I think this is all part of the evaluation process," Stefanski said. "I can't tell you exactly how many spots there are but I do think these game reps are really valuable in the overall evaluation.
The Browns kickoff their final preseason game Sunday at 8 p.m.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.