Wednesday's NFL: Browns' Mayfield 'beat up,' still hopes to play vs. Lions
Berea, Ohio — The timing wasn't lost on Baker Mayfield, who raised his voice to compete with an emergency siren screaming nearby as he began his weekly news conference.
When someone asked if he had called an ambulance, the Browns' battered quarterback smiled.
“I might have,” he said.
At least Mayfield's sense of humor is intact. The rest of him is a little off-kilter.
Mayfield, who is dealing with shoulder, foot and knee injuries, was kept out of practice on Wednesday to let some of his issues heal so he can possibly play this week against the winless Detroit Lions.
Mayfield has played most of the season with a torn labrum and fracture in his left, non-throwing shoulder. He suffered a bruised right knee in Sunday's loss to New England, which came a week after he hurt his left foot at Cincinnati.
“This is probably the most beat up I’ve ever been in my career, and it’s not like it’s one particular thing, it’s multiple,” said Mayfield, who limped slightly as he walked to the podium to speak with reporters. ”It's just that time of year."
But it's also a critical stretch for the Browns (5-5), whose playoff hopes are fading with each loss.
After hosting the Lions (0-8-1), they'll begin a unique three-week stretch in which Cleveland will face Baltimore, get its bye, and play the Ravens (6-3) again with perhaps the AFC North on the line.
At this point, Mayfield plans to play again this week — he missed one game with the shoulder injury — but said he won't push things by practicing.
“There’s no reason to make things worse if I don’t need to,” he said. "I have plenty of time until Sunday, so we’ll see what happens.”
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he was “confident” Mayfield will play against the Lions, who managed a 16-16 tie at Pittsburgh last week.
“Baker is as tough as they come," Stefanski said. "He's sore. He's fighting through it. That's kind of what you expect from him.”
Mayfield wore black athletic sweatpants, a hooded orange top and baseball cap when he walked onto the practice field to join his teammates during the portion of practice open to reporters.
There's a chance he won't be doing much practicing this week with his assortment of medical maladies.
“One day at a time,” he said.
Earlier, the 26-year-old acknowledged that his injuries have had a role in him playing inconsistently.
Mayfield posted a 132.6 passer rating on Nov. 7 in a 41-16 win over the Bengals, but last week he went just 11 for 21 for a career-low 73 yards before leaving with the knee injury.
He has just nine touchdown passes in nine games.
“Yeah, there’s definitely a couple plays where I look back and say I should have used my feet here and there, but you have to adapt,” Mayfield said. “Nobody is going to feel bad for you. It’s not an excuse. You just have to find a way to make a play.”
Mayfield's injuries are just one of the variables curtailing the Browns' passing attack. Cleveland hasn't thrown for more than 217 yards in any of its past five games.
With running back Nick Chubb (COVID-19) and Kareem Hunt (calf) still sidelined, the Browns are currently somewhat one-dimensional. Further, Stefanski gave up on the running game when the Patriots got up by two scores.
Mayfield threw just one pass toward his wide receivers at New England, and on Tuesday, Jarvis Landry, who has been slowed by a knee injury, expressed frustration at not getting more touches.
Mayfield agreed that Landry needs more targets.
“We’ll find ways to get Jarvis involved back in the game plan, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. "He’s a tempo-setter for us. He’s an extremely good leader and locker room guy for us, everybody knows that.
“We’ll find ways to get the ball in 80′s hands and get going again.”
Judge orders Ruggs back to court
A Las Vegas judge ordered former Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III to appear before her on Monday after learning he missed a required alcohol test while on house arrest following a fatal crash he’s accused of causing by driving drunk at speeds up to 156 mph.
Ruggs’ lawyers told Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum that Ruggs “self-tested” negative shortly after missing one of his calls for a breath test last weekend.
Ruggs' attorney, David Chesnoff, blamed the delay on trouble with testing equipment.
A note posted later in the court record shows Ruggs missed a test at 4:41 p.m. Saturday and that he completed “a client initiated remote breath test” at 6:28 p.m.
The alcohol monitoring agency noted that it “cannot confirm Mr. Rugg's sobriety during this point-in-time,” and said Ruggs' attorney provided an updated phone number for text notifications for Ruggs' remote breath test.
Ruggs, 22, was not in court Wednesday for the brief hearing during which Baucum also told his lawyers she won't issue a subpoena for fire department records about the fatal Nov. 2 crash and fire. The judge said the attorneys can get those records on their own.
Ruggs could face a return to jail. A judge who set his bail at $150,000 warned Ruggs directly that if he didn’t comply with release restrictions he faced rearrest.
Ruggs is under home confinement with electronic monitoring and four-times-a-day alcohol checks. He is required to respond to a telephone or text signal by blowing into a device that checks his blood-alcohol level. Records show he owns a $1.1 million home not far from where the crash occurred.
Prosecutors have said Ruggs’ blood-alcohol level after the crash was 0.16%, twice the legal limit for drivers in Nevada.
Authorities said he and his girlfriend, Kiara Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, were injured when Ruggs’ Chevrolet Corvette slammed into the rear of Tina Tintor’s Toyota Rav4, rupturing that vehicle’s fuel tank.
His lawyers have said in court filings that a witness told them firefighters were slow to extinguish flames They have not identified the witness.
Other witnesses told police they heard screams and tried to rescue Tintor, 23, and her dog but were turned back by heat, flames and smoke.
A Clark County spokesman has said there were no delays in the firefighting response or the attack on the fire.
Baucum has set a Dec. 16 preliminary hearing of evidence on two felony charges of driving under the influence causing death or serious injury. Each charge carries two years of mandatory prison time for a conviction, and as much as 20 years each.
Ruggs also faces two felony reckless driving counts and a misdemeanor weapon charge after police said a loaded handgun was found in his wrecked sports car.
Prosecutors said Ruggs suffered a leg injury and Washington underwent surgery for an arm injury.
Chesnoff and attorney Richard Schonfeld are fighting separately to block prosecutors from accessing Ruggs’ medical records, and an attorney for Washington has launched a similar effort on her behalf. A Dec. 8 hearing is scheduled.
The Raiders made Ruggs their first pick in the 2020 NFL draft from Alabama, where he helped the Crimson Tide win the 2017 NCAA championship. He had been an emerging star for the Raiders this season but the team released him after his arrest in the crash.
NFL updates COVID-19 protocols
The NFL is requiring players and staff to wear masks inside team facilities regardless of vaccination status for a week starting on Thanksgiving, and they must be tested twice for COVID-19 after the holiday.
The league’s protocols were updated as a result of increasing rates of COVID-19 across the country. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger each missed a game in consecutive weeks because of COVID-19.
There were 34 new confirmed positive tests among players and 47 new confirmed positives among club personnel in the latest testing period from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13. Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said in a conference call Wednesday the league had its highest number of cases last week.
“This upward trend, coupled with the onset of colder weather driving individuals indoors, has resulted in an increased risk of infection among players and staff,” the league said in a memo sent to teams Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press. “Our experts and data confirm that getting vaccinated remains our strongest defense against contracting and transmission of the virus within club facilities.”
As of Wednesday, 94.3% of NFL players and nearly 100% of NFL personnel are vaccinated. Overall, 30 of the league’s 32 teams have an overall vaccination rate of 95% or higher.
“Because we have a heavily vaccinated population, we are seeing fewer cases than in society, and those who test positive have milder illness,” Sills said. “We're not seeing an uncontrolled spread among teams.”
Sills also said vaccinated players who contract COVID-19 are testing back in sooner than the 10-day window in a substantial number of cases. Those players are permitted to return after six days of quarantine if they have two negative tests 24 hours apart and no symptoms.
The league is conducting genetic sequencing tests on positive cases to determine exact strains of the virus. Sills said that showed that one club had eight positive cases within a two-week span but each case was unrelated, meaning the individuals were exposed to the virus from someone outside the facility.
“That shows our protocols are working and they’re doing what they’re designed to do, which is to prevent the virus from spreading in an uncontrolled manner throughout teams,” Sills said.
Additional masking will not be required outdoors or in the practice bubble when the mandatory mask policy is in place next week. Testing will take place on Monday Nov. 29 and Wednesday Dec. 1.
Also, the league is encouraging teams to offer drive-through COVID-19 testing for friends and family of players and staff if they’re visiting or staying with them for Thanksgiving. The testing should be conducted before friends and family interact with players and staff, and should be arranged at times separate from when players and staff are testing.
Teams were reminded to strictly enforce protocols at their facilities. The NFL is offering to send league staff to assist with the enforcement of the protocols at club facilities. The league did this previously in training camp.
Last week, the NFL fined the Packers $300,000 and issued $14,650 fines to Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard for violations of league and players’ union protocols.