Mayfield, Browns try to move on post-OBJ against Raiders
After garnering AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors following a record-setting performance against in-state rival Cincinnati, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield now gets to face a Las Vegas Raiders defense that was just carved up by Tom Brady for 369 passing yards and four touchdowns last week.
Mayfield set a franchise record by completing 21 passes in a row and tied the Browns’ single-game record for touchdown passes with five, including a 24-yard game-winner to Donovan Peoples-Jones with 11 seconds remaining, in the 37-34 victory over the Bengals.
Only a spike with 16 seconds left snapped the completion streak which came following an 0-for-5 start and after Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. departed with a season-ending knee injury.
Rashard Higgins had six receptions for a career-best 110 yards and Peoples-Jones added three catches for 56 yards and a TD to help fill the void left by the injury to Beckham. Mayfield, who wasn’t sacked, finished 22 of 28 (78.6 percent) for 297 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
“Anytime you get recognized like that, I think it’s great for the guys,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski. “Great individual award and happy for Baker, but I think it’s also a testament to the entire group.”
During a Wednesday Zoom call with reporters, Mayfield bristled at the suggestion that Cleveland (5-2) might be better off without Beckham, who suffered a torn ACL trying to chase down cornerback Darius Phillips to make a tackle after Mayfield was picked off.
“I think it’s just completely insensitive to a guy who just tore his ACL,” Mayfield said. “So, I’m not even going to comment on it. You never want to lose guys. That’s where I’m going to leave that one.”
Stefanski also rejected the notion that Mayfield spread the ball around better without Beckham on the field.
“Odell is a great, great player,” Stefanski said. “We’re going to miss him. I feel sick, still, without him in the building.”
Beckham wasn’t the only Brown missing on the practice field on Wednesday.
Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett, who had two sacks in the win over the Bengals and leads the NFL with nine, sat out with an ankle injury that Stefanski said was more precautionary while guard Wyatt Teller (calf), linebacker Jacob Phillips (knee), tight end Austin Hooper (abdomen) and center J.C. Tretter (knee) also didn’t practice.
Stefanski said Teller, who has missed two games, could return Sunday while he expects Garrett to be back at practice later in the week.
Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden, whose defense ranks 28th against the pass allowing an average of 283.8 yards per game and has two fewer total sacks (seven) than Garrett, went out of his way to praise the fourth-year defensive end from Texas A&M.
“Everybody talks about the sacks, but this guy forces fumbles (four, tied for most in the NFL), he causes sacks for other people,” Gruden said. “He bats down passes, his hands are always up in the air. He’s a got a factor about him. I wish we had Garrett.”
Las Vegas (3-3) only had one hit and zero sacks on Brady during its 45-20 home loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Raiders managed to stay in the game for three quarters despite the fact that four of their five starting offensive linemen — left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good (replacing injured Richie Incognito), center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson — weren’t cleared to play until Sunday morning after self-isolating for five days following a positive COVID-19 test by starting right tackle Trent Brown.
Gruden is hopeful that Brown could be back to practice by Friday. Hudson (non-injury related) and defensive end Arden Key (foot) both missed practice on Wednesday while running back Josh Jacobs (knee), held to a career-low 17 yards on 10 carries by the Bucs, and wide receiver Bryan Edwards (foot/ankle) were both limited.
–Field Level Media