BEREA, Ohio — After a rough outing against the Vikings and not his greatest performance the week before against the Bears, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was the first of a few national sports reporters to report today that Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield suffered a partially torn labrum in the Week 2 matchup with the Texans.
#Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who has been wearing a shoulder harness to play, suffered a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder on Sept 19 vs the #Texans, sources say. No surgery needed as of now. He was listed on the report after the injury and hasn’t missed a practice snap.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 7, 2021
During the game on Sept. 19, 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 and didn't miss a play.
After the game, Mayfield said that his shoulder "popped in and out" and later said he was getting treatment on the injured left shoulder daily, flying in physiotherapist Dave Matthews to work on his shoulder. That treatment takes place during the breaks of practice and continues after his work day if over, receiving additional treatment and physiotherapy at home.
Mayfield confirmed on Wednesday that he was wearing a harness on his left shoulder, as could be seen under his jersey for the past two game days. But the quarterback has been adamant that the injury is not impacting his accuracy and only attributing the recent poor performance against the Vikings to his own approach.
Completing just 15 of his 33 passes for 155 yards and being sacked three times, Mayfield's day was tough to watch. Underthrowing the ball, overthrowing the ball, missing open receivers. He couldn't find a rhythm.
"I've got to do better. It's just flat-out simple. And there's not much else I can say," Mayfield said after the game Sunday.
And on Wednesday, that sentiment remained, even after confirming he was wearing a harness. Mayfield refused to excuse his performance when asked if the harness impacted his throws.
"It should not," Mayfield said,matter-of-factly.
Rapoport reported Thursday that Mayfield's injury is possibly a little more serious than he and the team let on, and that Mayfield would play through it and would not require surgery to repair it at this time.
As Mayfield grits the injury out the Browns have several options. Let him continue playing and hope over the next few weeks it's able to heal and he can soon ditch the harness and play more freely and throw more accurately, or rest Mayfield and use Case Keenum, the backup earning $6 million this season, for a game or two.
Offensive lineman Joel Bitonio praised Mayfield's toughness and doesn't think that the injury will take him out of the game.
“I think there's no doubt in any of the players' minds that he's one of the tougher guys out there. He's going to go and he's going to battle and he's been hit and beat up before, and he just keeps coming back. You're going to have to do a lot more to get him out of games than whatever is going on with him now," Bitonio said. "He's just focused on trying to get better each week and trying to be the best quarterback for this team. We're trying to rally around him and protect him and put him in the best possible positions.”
Mayfield is not one to sit out on his own volition, even taking to Instagram Wednesday evening to share how he was feeling, writing the following on his story:
People seem to forget how I got here ... Nothing was given. Everything earned. Ups and downs. Came out stronger & better every time. God blessed me with the mental and physical strength to not only make it through adversity, but to also grow through those trials that nobody else could handle. I’ll always be striving to get better... which I will continue to have that mindset.
Winning is the priority for me, always has been and always will be. That’s why I was brought to Cleveland, to change that narrative and impact others along the way.
That being said, we have a great group. I have their back and they have mine. I’m gonna battle for these guys every single week. On to the next challenge.
Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt said that he doesn't see Mayfield's injury affecting him during practice, admitting it might bother him a little but that getting banged up is part of the gig.
“I don’t see that on the practice field, I don’t. I see the accuracy as it usually is on the practice field. Obviously, it does bother him. It’s sore I’m sure. Sleep is probably something that’s tough on the left side. But it’s part of the deal. It’s part of playing in the NFL. At lot of guys at this time of the year and during the course of the year, get nicked up and have to play through it," Van Pelt said.
While Mayfield will look to avoid surgery and play through the season, an off-season surgery may be down the road. Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence had labrum surgery on his non-throwing arm in February and was back in time for the next season, for reference.
The Browns have a tough quarterback, one who will play through soreness and pain. But he's human, and injury, even if it's not to his throwing arm, will play a role in the game. The hope is the worst is behind him with that Vikings game, but we'll only know for sure on Sunday against the Chargers.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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