An otherwise boring final slate of preseason games will be interesting for the Browns, as Baker Mayfield will get the start Thursday night.
The final preseason game for NFL teams is mostly about some level of competition for the final few roster spots, while keeping any key players on the sideline. But the Cleveland Browns are going off-script. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Baker Mayfield will start against the Detroit Lions Thursday night.
Brown head coach Hue Jackson has remained adamant that Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback, and a dislocated pinky in third preseason game should not throw that off course.
“I am not playing the starters in this game,” Jackson said, “You guys have been looking for that. They will not play. Specific guys will play and play quite a bit, and then we will let some other guys finish the game.”
Jackson said Mayfield could play a half against the Lions, while also acknowledging this year’s No.1 pick could “play quite a bit.” Does the first half equal “quite a bit?”
Mayfield will surely benefit from playing a lot, even with and against backup-caliber players. But there’s also a fine line between beneficial game reps and exposing him to a major injury in an entirely meaningless game. Especially for a coach who was captured by “Hard Knocks” cameras arguing for players to rest early in training camp, much to the chagrin of offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Taylor’s status as the Week 1 starter for the Browns has never been a real question, health-permitting. Making Mayfield the starter for the preseason finale is a clear declaration of his place on the depth chart, and if he doesn’t play the whole game Drew Stanton and Brogan Roback will presumably also get some playing time.