Baker Mayfield won’t be sharing the field with the quarterback he was associated with frequently throughout the buildup to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, selected two picks after the Browns took Mayfield at No. 1, has been ruled out for the Browns’ Monday Night Football game in New York. Darnold has mononucleosis and could miss multiple weeks, Jets coach Adam Gase said.
The Jets will go with veteran Trevor Siemian, who started 24 games for the Broncos during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens took the podium just a few moments after the news was revealed. He didn’t flinch and brushed it off, saying the Browns wouldn’t be affected by anything the Jets do as they prepare and hope to be so much better than they were in Sunday’s disappointing season opening loss to the Titans.
“We’re going to be focused on our preparation during the week the same as we would have been before,” Kitchens said. “We’re going to try to get after the quarterback just like we did before. We try to affect the quarterback every way we can, through coverage, through pressure. Nothing changes.”
Check out photos from today's practice by team photographer Matt Starkey
Kitchens continued that line of conversation with a reference to last week, when the Titans beat the Browns without two starters on their offensive line. When Kitchens was with the Cardinals in 2015, he watched the team fall, 25-13, in a game against the Steelers, who were without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“These guys are in the NFL for a reason,” Kitchens said. “Trevor can play.
“We’re going to prepare and concentrate on ourselves -- with ourselves getting better, ourselves playing smarter, ourselves playing tougher. We want smart, tough, physical football players. That’s what we’re trying to get. That has nothing to do with the opponent.”
Darnold and Mayfield squared off last year at FirstEnergy Stadium when Mayfield made his memorable NFL debut in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor. Darnold was 15-of-31 for 169 yards and two interceptions on that night and finished his rookie season with 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. In the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Bills, Darnold was 28-of-41 for 175 yards and a touchdown.
Siemian did not see the field last season during his one-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings.