CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is planning to play Thursday against the Denver Broncos, despite a left shoulder injury sustained in Week 2 that was made worse on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
On Tuesday, Mayfield said that he expected to play and the final decision will be made after practice sessions where he can simulate game throws to see how his shoulder feels.
"If I'm not able to do and be 100% then that's where I'd be out," Mayfield said. "I have to make that decision. Only I know how my body feels and if anyone questions whether I'm hindering the team and going out there injured that's just not right. So it's my decision. I get to say whether I'm able to play or not and that's just how it is."
During the open portion of practice Tuesday, Mayfield did not participate, with backups Case Keenum and Nick Mullens taking all of the reps, but as media was leaving the facility, Mayfield trotted onto the fields in his gear.
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. On Tuesday, Mayfield said he had "no idea" if he'd be having surgery at some point to repair the damage but did say that the labrum was actually "completely torn" from Week 2.
On Sunday, Mayfield exacerbated the injury 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 said he didn't want to get into details about his MRI.
While the team will play Mayfield, the Browns will take the field under primetime lights for the first time this season without several of their key players, including running back Kareem Hunt and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who sustained “significant” injuries Sunday and will be out “weeks.”
The Browns have a slew of other hurt players listed on the injury report, with 20 appearing on Monday's report—37% of the active roster dealing with some kind of injury.
But Mayfield said that injuries won't stop them from going out and giving it their all on Thursday.
"We’re 3-3, the most important game is the next one. And we need to go out there and do our damn job and find a way to win on a short week. It’s as simple as that. That’s part of the culture and winning mentality mindset we’ve been trying to build here," Mayfield said. "You should want to be out there. You should want to be playing for this team. You should want to be fighting for the guys next to you and if not, that’s not the type of guys we want here. We’re trying to continue to build that mentality and that culture.
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.