BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Baker Mayfield wants to tough it out.
The Browns quarterback said he expects to play Thursday night against the Denver Broncos despite a painful left shoulder injury that has worsened since he hurt it a month ago while trying to make a tackle.
Asked if he expects to play, Mayfield said, “I do.”
Mayfield, who re-injured his non-throwing shoulder Sunday, was late joining his teammates on the practice field. He did throw a couple of passes at the very end of the portion open to reporters.
Before the workout, Mayfield said that ultimately the decision on whether he plays will come down to being able to perform at his best — and that might not be possible right now. He’s planning to test his pain tolerance with hard throws.
“I think whenever we decide to give me some of these reps and throw the pads on and simulate these throws, these game throws. If I’m not able to do and be 100 percent, that’s where I’d be at.
“I have to make that decision. Only I know how my body feels. And if anyone questions whether I’m hindering the team in going out there injured, that’s just not right. so it’s my decision, I get to say whether I’m able to play or not, and that’s just how it is.”
Coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield will be limited in practice, and that no decision has been made on his availability.
“You guys know Baker — he’s a fighter,” Stefanski said. “He’s as tough as they come. I expect him to fight like crazy to get to Thursday. I think that’s a great message to our entire team, and we have talked about that as a team.
“On these Thursday night games you have to fight, scratch and claw because it is hard, but it is hard on both teams.”
Case Keenum is Cleveland’s backup and the 33-year-old veteran, who has 62 career NFL starts, will play if Mayfield feels he can’t go.
The Browns signed Keenum as a free agent before last season.
“I honestly have a ton of confidence in all of our backups,” Stefanski said when asked about his faith in Keenum. “I really do. These guys stay ready so they do not have to get ready. They do a great job in the meeting rooms and on the practice field.
“Specifically to Case, he’s a pro. He will be ready if we need him, and that is no different than a lot of these guys.”
Mayfield has played the past four games with a complete tear of his left labrum suffered on Sept. 19. He’s wearing a harness to stabilize the shoulder, but that didn’t prevent it from twice popping out of the socket — once on a non-contact play — in a loss to Arizona on Sunday.
Following the game, Mayfield said his shoulder also dislocated when got tripped by Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt and fell when his arm was fully extended.
“Anybody’s shoulder probably would have popped out how I fell, so it just was kind of a freak deal,” Mayfield said, adding the play caused more damage. “It wasn’t ideal by any means. I’m not going to get into details but, yeah, it’s not the same.”
The 26-year-old Mayfield said it’s important for him to stay on the field.
“I think that sets the tone,” he said. “Obviously, if I was in a physical state where I wasn’t able to play to the best of my abilities and I was hurting the team, I wouldn’t do that because I care about winning and I want to give this team the best position to do that, so I want to be out there.
“I want to get healthy, I want to do all that, so that’s what it’s about.”
Mayfield is awaiting a second opinion on MRI results to assess the damage to his non-throwing shoulder, which he injured in Week 3. He said the pain is “up there for me” and more severe than when he hurt it the first time.
Mayfield could benefit from taking a game off. After facing the Broncos on Thursday, Cleveland won’t play again until Oct. 31 against Pittsburgh and the added break would give Mayfield’s injury a chance to heal some.
But he’s not thinking past the Broncos.
“I’ve got this game on my mind and this one only,” he said. “I could care less, I’m trying to win this one.”
NOTES: WR Odell Beckham (shoulder) was not on the field when practice started. … WR Jarvis Landry looked good running routes in just his second practice after missing three games with a knee sprain. Landry’s return would be a huge boost for Cleveland. … Tackles Jack Conklin (knee) and Jedrick Wills Jr. (ankle) worked to the side. Their status for Thursday remains unknown.
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