Friday's NFL: Browns' Baker Mayfield starting against Steelers, shoulder better
Berea, Ohio — Baker Mayfield’s back in the saddle — and huddle.
The Browns’ quarterback will start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, returning after missing one game because of an injured left shoulder that will require management for the rest of this season.
Mayfield, who has a torn labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder, practiced for the third straight day on Friday. Coach Kevin Stefanski announced afterward that the 26-year-old will be back in the lineup.
“Medically, he’s ready to go,” Stefanski said. “Our doctors, our trainers, the second opinions felt very comfortable about that and Baker, he feels that he’s ready and he feels like he’s ready to help this team win.”
Mayfield didn’t play last week — ending his streak of 53 consecutive starts — in a win over Denver. The rest improved Mayfield’s range of motion and reduced inflammation, allowing him to strengthen his shoulder.
Mayfield has been fitted with a new stabilizing harness to help prevent his shoulder from popping out. Stefanski said he didn’t see any issues with Mayfield’s throwing mechanics this week.
“I would tell you functionally he’s 100 percent,” Stefanski said.
Earlier this week, Mayfield said he would keep playing as long as he wasn’t hurting the Browns (4-3) or their chances to win.
Mayfield first injured his shoulder while trying to make a tackle last month against Houston. He then suffered a tuberosity fracture when he bent his arm back trying to protect his fall against Arizona on Oct. 17.
“He’s mentally as tough as anyone I have been around,” offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said Thursday. ”He takes everything seriously. I don’t know if I have seen him jovial, but that is Baker, and I love his attitude.”
Veteran backup Case Keenum started for Mayfield last week and led the Browns to a 17-14 win.
The Browns also will have star running back Nick Chubb (calf) and starting right tackle Jack Conklin (knee) back this week. Those returns will help Mayfield significantly, with Conklin lining up against Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, who has seven sacks.
Mayfield also will have two of his top targets together for the first time this season as wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are expected to play. Beckham has been dealing with a shoulder sprain, but has practiced.
The Broncos haven’t had much success since Peyton Manning retired a month after becoming the first starting quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams.
But his legacy lives on at Empower Field at Mile High, where Manning will be honored Sunday during pregame and halftime ceremonies for his inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.
… The Bears will be without outside linebacker Khalil Mack (foot) when they face the 49ers on Sunday at Soldier Field.
A foot injury has plagued Mack since early in the season and the Bears will rest him in hopes of healing it. Coach Matt Nagy said no decision has been made on putting their top pass rusher on injured reserve, which leaves open the possibility he would play Nov. 8 at Pittsburgh.
… Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is questionable for Los Angeles’ game against New England due to a hip injury.
… DeSean Jackson and the Rams are trying to find a trade partner for the veteran receiver, who is frustrated by his lack of playing time after just seven games with his hometown team.
… Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan has cleared concussion protocol and will play against the Colts.
… Rookie Davis Mills will start at quarterback for the Texans against the Rams with Tyrod Taylor not yet ready to return from a hamstring injury.
… Jets wide receiver Corey Davis is unlikely to play against the Bengals because of a hip injury suffered in practice Thursday.
… 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw underwent season-ending knee surgery after being hampered by the injury since late season.