CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will not start on Thursday against the Denver Broncos after injuring his left shoulder in Week 2 and further injuring it again on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Backup quarterback Case Keenum will get the start in Thursday night's nationally televised game, the team announced on Twitter.
#Browns Case Keenum on getting the start at QB tomorrow: "I feel very ready. I've been ready. There's a saying 'if you stay ready you don't have to get ready.' I've been ready since I got here."— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) October 20, 2021
“Baker fought really hard to play, he’s a competitor and obviously wants to be out there but just couldn’t make it on a short week. We know he will continue to do everything in his power to return as quickly as possible," head coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday.
Mayfield initially injured his non-throwing shoulder on Sept. 19 as the Browns took on the Houston Texans. Mayfield was attempting to throw to rookie wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, who appeared to stop his route prematurely, allowing the Texans to intercept the ball.
While trying to make a tackle, Mayfield appeared to injure his shoulder and was down on the field before trainers ran out to evaluate him. Mayfield headed into the medical tent and then went back to the locker room. But shortly after, Mayfield ran back from the locker room to the sideline, putting his helmet on and prepping to go back into the game.
Mayfield didn’t miss a snap that game but did say afterwards that his shoulder had “popped in and out.”
From that game on, Mayfield has been wearing a shoulder harness for the left shoulder and receiving treatments daily from a physiotherapist. That treatment has taken place during the breaks of practice and after his work day is over, with additional treatment and physiotherapy sessions at his home.
It later was revealed that Mayfield had partially torn his labrum in the left shoulder and while he would play through it, an option for correcting it could be surgery.
As Mayfield attempted to hold off from that, he exacerbated the injury Sunday night against the Cardinals when he was sacked by defensive end J.J. Watt.
Players on both teams took a knee as medical staff rushed the field to evaluate Mayfield, who eventually got up and walked off the field under his own power. Mayfield entered the medical tent on the sideline and after leaving and heading back in multiple times, Mayfield put on his helmet and returned to the game.
After the game, Mayfield came out to the press conference wearing a sling and said his left shoulder dislocated on the hit and then later popped in and out on a non-contact play later in the game after he returned to the field.
"It feels like s***," Mayfield said of his shoulder after the game, coming to the press conference in a sling. But when asked if he'd be able to play on Thursday, Mayfield answered with a firm "absolutely."
The team conducted MRIs on the shoulder after the game and on Monday Stefanski said that they’d monitor Mayfield in the few days between then and their next game against the Broncos.
Mayfield isn’t the only star injured on Thursday. The Browns will take the field under primetime lights for the first time this season without several other key players, including running back Kareem Hunt and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who sustained “significant” injuries Sunday and will be out “weeks.”
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