Baker Mayfield prepared and prepared for a moment he knew would eventually arrive. The rookie quarterback thrived in the situation – a hectic, pressure-packed one, at that – because of it.
Ten days removed from his memorable debut against the Jets, Mayfield will be even more prepared when he makes his first NFL start Sunday in Oakland. His first full week of practice with the first-team offense is in the books, and Mayfield considered every last pass he threw to be invaluable in his pursuit to turn around the Browns franchise.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Mayfield after Friday's walk-through to gauge where he's at heading into a moment he's dreamt of for years and years.
CB.com: You've had a little bit of a longer week to prepare for your first NFL start. What have you done to maximize it?
Mayfield: Same routine for me other than when we come out to practice, I'm actually getting the reps. I'm not handling it any different. Same focus, same intensity, it's just now I'm actually getting reps with the guys. It feels good to get out there and play.
CB.com: How valuable are those reps?
Mayfield: Unbelievable. I don't think you can put any words to describe how truly valuable it is to get the timing down and the chemistry down. Also, just the talk in the huddle is the thing that goes beyond the scheme. It really matters. You've got to have your team together, you've got to believe in each other and you've got to trust each other. That's the valuable stuff right there.
CB.com: When you look back at the win last week, what about it made you feel so comfortable stepping into that situation?
Mayfield: It's just routine, getting into your routine, treating it the same every week no matter if you're playing or not. Just knowing the game plan. It's why I was comfortable with it. We've gone over our offense from OTAs to training camp, so I was prepared for it and now we're building and moving forward.
CB.com: How does your experience in big games in college help you now that you're being asked to thrive in big moments in the NFL?
Mayfield: It definitely helps out. I definitely had to grow and learn in those times where we traveled on the road on the big stage and hostile environments. It definitely helps. When I went in Thursday, I just felt comfortable to go out there and do my job and do it at the highest level possible.
CB.com: What did you hear from your family and friends after your first time playing with the Browns?
Mayfield: They were unbelievably happy for me. They knew exactly how I was feeling throughout the whole process. Human nature for me is I want to play, but at the same time, I want to help the team win. They were happy for me but then also just feeling the excitement for this franchise and organization that we deserved that win, and it's only the start. They're excited for what's to come, not just happy for one win.
CB.com: When you're out there playing, is that when your moxie comes out? Is it from the action you're experiencing?
Mayfield: A little bit of that. It's obviously more intense on game days when you're playing. I like to pride myself on the fact I'm the same person every day. You're gonna get that every day and those guys can count on that. When it comes to game days, it's more intense and they know they can trust me. I want them to know that and I'm passionate about the game.
CB.com: What kind of potential do you see from this offense after three weeks?
The Cleveland Browns fly to Oakland to play the Raiders in Week 4.
Mayfield: We've shown potential throughout the whole season, not just last week. The way we finished the last two drives in New Orleans, we've shown streaks and little spurts of our potential and how explosive we can be if we just do our jobs. I'm excited now. We've got three weeks under our belt and we just got to keep getting better every week.
CB.com: How much did your chemistry with guys like Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins help when you were summoned to play, and how easy does a receiver like Jarvis Landry make your transition even though you haven't thrown to him as much?
Mayfield: I think training camp with those other guys definitely paid off. Every rep paid off with getting the timing down and trusting them to know what they're doing. I was able to communicate exactly what we want. Jarvis is just a baller, man. I know exactly what he's going to do. There's something about it; he just plays the game. We have our schemes and a lot of times plays don't go the way you want them to. You've got to play ball at that point and he's one of those guys that knows how to do that.
CB.com: Growing up, what did you think of when you thought of the Oakland Raiders?
Mayfield: Nasty defense. You hear about the Black Hole. There's a lot of stories I've heard throughout the week. The big, bad Oakland Raiders, you talk about their reputation. All of it encompasses that.
CB.com: What have you seen on film of their defense?
Mayfield: A veteran group. A lot of guys that have a lot of experience and know what they're doing. I've seen that so I'm expecting them to try to trick me and do a couple of different things they haven't shown on film and rely on experience. I'm looking forward to this matchup.
CB.com: What do you like most about playing on the road?
Mayfield: The fact that it's just us, just our team with our backs against the wall. You've got to love going to a place like Oakland where they're screaming at you and throwing stuff. It's a mentality of 'it's just us.' We're all we have and it's us against the world. That's what I love about it.
CB.com: Do you feed off the negative energy from road crowds?
Mayfield: It's always fun to play in front of a crowd like that, but I wouldn't necessarily say I feed off it. I think you see exactly what type of men you have on your team. You see what true character a guy has when his back's against the wall and being tested. I love it and I love to see it about myself and am looking forward to that kind of environment Sunday.
CB.com: You weren't here the last couple of years, but did you sense the overall relief getting a win meant for the franchise?
Mayfield: I definitely felt the energy and the relief. At the same time, I'm not focused on that. I want everyone to know here we're trying to change the culture. We're not happy just about one win. We're stacking wins. We want to focus on that. It's one week at a time. You win one, you're on to the next. That's the mindset we have to have and that's the mindset I have.