Browns’ Nick Mullens gets start as top 2 QBs remain in protocol
Pushing their game back two days didn’t help the Cleveland Browns quarterback situation after all.
Third-string quarterback Nick Mullens will start Monday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders as starter Baker Mayfield and backup Case Keenum could not clear COVID-19 protocols, per multiple reports.
The only player able to clear the protocols Monday was safety John Johnson, leaving the Browns with 22 still in the protocols, including three on the practice squad.
The Browns have three coaches sidelined in the protocols, including head coach Kevin Stefanski. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as acting head coach and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will call plays if Stefanski remains out as expected.
The Browns learned Wednesday that Mayfield tested positive and landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. On Thursday, Keenum went on the COVID list after testing positive.
That leaves Mullens to start his 17th NFL game. All of Mullens’ starts came for the San Francisco 49ers from 2018-20. In 19 games overall, Mullens is completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 4,714 yards with 25 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
The game was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The NFL moved the game to 5 p.m. ET Monday in an effort to give the Browns a chance to return some of their players to active duty.
However, the Browns still have the following impact players on the COVID list: tight end Austin Hooper, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, left tackle Jedrick Wills, kick returner JoJo Natson, Mayfield and Keenum, defensive tackle Malik McDowell, safeties Ronnie Harrison and Grant Delpit, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, right tackle James Hudson III and punter Jamie Gillan.
Running back Kareem Hunt and cornerback Troy Hill, both on the list, were expected to miss the game due to injury anyway.
It’s an enormous game for the Browns (7-6), who could vault to first place in the AFC North with a win or drop to last place in the division with a loss.
The Browns activated seven players from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements: cornerbacks Brian Allen and Herb Miller, safeties Jovante Moffatt and Tedric Thompson, guard Hjalte Froholdt, defensive end Joe Jackson and running back John Kelly.
–Field Level Media