Adaptation has been the key for Baker Mayfield since he arrived in Cleveland, and it was never more important than the past six months.
Despite numerous limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayfield worked with and adapted to the circumstances. He found extra time when he could to get to know his newest playmakers and dig into his new playbook. He transformed his body and returned to training camp in the kind of shape he believes will maximize his potential during his third NFL season.
Sunday provides the first of many opportunities to showcase the fruits of that labor.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Mayfield after Friday's practice.
CB.com: It's been a long time coming, months in the making and the weirdest offseason you've been through. What are the emotions going through your head entering this first game?
Mayfield: I'm more excited than anything. I'm excited to get out there and showcase what we've been working on. All the meetings, all the hours we've put in this offseason, sitting through the different schedules and adapting to all of the changes, and just getting out there and showcasing our new personnel, our new guys and what we're all about. Most importantly, it will be great to finally play somebody other than the Cleveland Browns in practice.
CB.com: Does everything you're going through protocol-wise inside the building feel normal at this point?
Mayfield: I've found a routine now that I'm in a game week, so it feels normal. It definitely took some time to get used to it. Everybody's having to do it, so it's no excuse.
CB.com: When you look back on those months at home, what was the most important thing you did to get yourself ready for the season?
Mayfield: The extra conversations with our skill group with what we talked about in the meetings. We installed everything and talked about it, but actually getting out there and doing it — those extra little conversations and getting them down there to Austin and practicing some of that stuff. I think the extra work we put in will be very beneficial in the end.
CB.com: One of the guys you got close to in the offseason was Austin Hooper. What has he meant to you in terms of his role in the offense?
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Ravens Sunday
Mayfield: I obviously spent a lot of time with him getting to know what he's all about and just being around him. He's a very talented player. That speaks for itself and that's why we brought him here. He's all about winning, he's all about the team. We built chemistry very early on, built a foundation. It was great with him coming out here and being around the other guys and showing how route concepts, conceptual thinking, him helping out younger guys because he's been around some good veterans and he's played a lot of ball. He's an extremely important part of our offense and will continue to be that way.
CB.com: What's it been like to see healthy versions of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.?
Mayfield: Them getting their bodies right was the most important thing. Didn't want to rush that, didn't want to do anything to stress them out. We wanted them ready for the important time right here. We still have those extra conversations and then get them out here at full speed. Having a healthy Odell, he's on a different level and a healthy Jarvis — Jarvis has been dealing with that injury for the first two years I've been with him. I didn't know what type of speed he could potentially have. I was so used to it. It's pretty exciting to have them both in top shape.
CB.com: What's the thing you like best about this offense so far?
Mayfield: We have playmakers all around. The best part of the offense is I can just go through my reads and trust everyone is going to make those plays. I go through it, do my job, distribute and just get the ball in their hands.
CB.com: With these 15 training camp practices, what did you do to expedite your personal process without the preseason?
Mayfield: I try to treat everything in practice, when we go against the ones and twos, to be as game-like as possible. I mentally put myself in that place. A lot of times in practice you're trying to figure stuff out and try new things. I really worked on scramble drill, get the ball out quick and being decisive like it's a game-like situation.
CB.com: You're someone who likes to feed off crowd energy. What do you do with no fans in the building Sunday?
Mayfield: It can either be an advantage or a disadvantage for you. For us, the mentality of it is just being us against everybody else. Block out all of the noise or lack thereof in this case. Just do your job. For us, it's going to be nice to go in there and have the simulated crowd noise and just us versus the Ravens and go out and do your job.
CB.com: Do you even remember the smallest crowd you've played in front of?
Mayfield: It would have to be middle school. Even in high school, we had big crowds. I played in front of 50,000 people sometimes. It's definitely going to be different but we've got to treat it like a game because it is.
CB.com: What sticks out about the Ravens defense?
Mayfield: They've had a couple of personnel changes, a few switch-ups that will have different people out there. A good draft pick in Patrick Queen, some defensive line changes. For us, it's about seeing their film, knowing what Wink Martindale is going to call and going out and adapting to whatever they're going to bring. They're going to have a little flavor of the day, they're going to have their blitz packages, which is what they do. They try to be physical. We have to be prepared to match that physicality and beat that.