FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The injuries are piling up on quarterback Baker Mayfield.
A right knee contusion suffered late in the third quarter of the Browns’ 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium is the most recent concern.
In Mayfield’s postgame news conference, he didn’t sound as sure about his chances to play next week against the Detroit Lions as he usually does when he broaches the subject of pushing through injuries.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve got to find a way to get as healthy as possible,” Mayfield said when asked if he’s confident he’ll play for the Browns (5-5) when they meet the Lions (0-8-1) at FirstEnergy Stadium. “I’m pretty beat up right now. But, yeah, it was just an awkward hit and landing. So we’ll see day by day.”
With the Browns trailing 31-7 and facing second-and-10 at the New England 40-yard line, Mayfield took a hit from linebacker Matt Judon on an incomplete pass with 2:22 left in the third quarter. Mayfield fell to the ground, where medical personnel examined him before walking him to the sideline and into the medical tent. Mayfield never returned to the game. He sat on the bench and walked the sideline with backup Case Keenum filling in.
Mayfield said he was “a little bit” worried he had suffered a more severe injury than he did.
“No structural damage from the X-ray that we just took,” Mayfield said. “So that’s good news.”
After the game, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski announced Mayfield had suffered a knee contusion. Stefanski said Mayfield could have re-entered the game. Stefanski added he decided against it because the quarterback had been absorbing hits and the game was out of reach.
“Baker’s a competitor,” Stefanski said. “I just didn’t feel it was the right thing to do to put him back out there.”
Asked if he expects Mayfield to be able to face the Lions, Stefanski said, “Yes. I mean, pending how it shakes out, but yes.”
Mayfield has been playing through an injured left, non-throwing shoulder since Oct. 19, when he suffered a completely torn labrum in a 31-21 win over the Houston Texans. The injury was exacerbated Oct. 17, when he suffered a fractured humerus bone in a 37-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
In last week’s 41-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Mayfield suffered a cut on his left knee and came up limping after a sack. Last week in practice, he dealt with a sore left foot stemming from the game in Cincinnati.
Browns three-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio said “it’s not good” to see the list of Mayfield’s injuries grow.
“You don’t want to see a quarterback get hit, and he’s already a little banged up,” Bitonio said. “He’s one tough guy, and if he can play, he’ll be out there. But if he’s out there, we have to protect him and keep him safe because anytime 250-, 300-pound guys are hitting a guy that’s 220 repetitively, it’s not a great thing. We’ve got to do a better job when he’s out there, but he’s tough. We know if he can play, he’s going to be out there and play.”
Mayfield had a horrendous outing against the Patriots (6-4).
He finished 11-of-21 passing (52.4%) for 73 yards and a touchdown with an interception for a rating of 56.2. He took two sacks. The Patriots were credited with nine quarterback hits.
Even with his right knee hobbling him as he walked to the podium for an interview after the game, Mayfield said, “Losing is the worst part.”