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Mayfield proving worth on and off field for Browns

By
The Sports Xchange
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass during a game against the Carolina Panthers at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland on December 9, 2018. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass during a game against the Carolina Panthers at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland on December 9, 2018. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Before Sunday's win over Carolina, Cleveland interim head coach Gregg Williams knew his star rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield was in for a good game.

Williams told reporters after the 26-20 win over the Panthers at Browns Stadium that the sound the football made when Mayfield warmed up brought "a smile to my face."

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"You can hear how tight the ball was coming out of his hand," Williams said. "It was bringing a smile to my face when I was saw him warm up."

Mayfield proceeded to complete 18 of 22 pass for 238 yards and a touchdown. His first play from scrimmage was a 66-yard completion to Breshad Perriman. Later in the first half, he placed his pass perfectly between two defenders on a 51-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry.

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Mayfield's four incompletions included one that was dropped by Rashard Higgins and another he threw away. David Njoku could not haul in another pass that hit his hands.

Many of his completions were made through tight windows of opportunity.

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"In practices, we have seen longer throws and we have seen even more accurate throws that other people have not seen yet," Williams said. "So not surprised at all because we have seen it in practice.

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"The really good quarterbacks throw their receivers open in tight coverage, and they have to be able to hit the very small window. I think you are seeing some of that with Baker right now."

The Browns are 5-7-1 and still alive for a Wild Card spot with three games remaining. They are not feeling the pressure. They are having fun instead and a lot of that has to do with Mayfield.

Teammate Damarious Randall joked after Sunday's game that Mayfield is a system quarterback because Oklahoma's Kyler Murray stepped in right after him with the Sooners and won the Heisman Trophy.

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"Damarious is somebody that loves to talk," Mayfield said. "He also said he should be playing professional baseball right now, and I think we all know the answer to that."

Randall's playful disparaging remarks show a sign of respect for Mayfield from his teammates. They are having fun at each other's expense, which means the locker room is loose.

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"If you asked me in training camp, I would've wanted to beat up Damarious," Mayfield said. "It comes with the process of learning each other and growing so that's the good thing of where we're at right now."

The Browns need to win out and hope for the teams ahead of them to falter to have a chance at the playoffs. Keeping the playoff dream alive serves as a motivational tool for Williams.

"This job is a tough job at this level in the profession," Williams said. "The pride factor of seeing that possibility is still there does help."

--CB Denzel Ward (concussion) did not play Sunday. He is undergoing the concussion protocol and his availability against Denver this Sunday is questionable.

--OL Austin Corbett (foot) also did not play in Sunday's game and is expected to miss Sunday's game against Denver.

--C J.C. Tretter (ankle) has played through injury problems in recent weeks. Browns coach Gregg Williams said the team will assess Tretter's condition late in the week to determine if he can play Sunday.

--CB Phillip Gaines (knee) missed last week's game against the Panthers and is doubtful to play this week against the Broncos.

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--RB Nick Chubb is on his way to a 1,000-yard rushing season. He is at 740 yards with a 5.3-yard average. He has eight rushing TDs. As a team, the Browns had just 11 rushing TDs last season.

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