Monken bullish on Baker Mayfield's future - News & Notes

Todd Monken knows the numbers, but he also sees what he's watched closely since joining the Browns as offensive coordinator at the start of the year.

His excitement about Baker Mayfield was high at the outset and that hasn't changed a bit despite the team's offensive struggles throughout the the 2019 season.

"I think he is a tremendous football player," Monken said. "Competitor, smart, tough, has a rare competitive quality and a rare want to be great and that is the thing that I think is going to continue to push him and for him to push the rest of our offensive group."

Through 12 games, Mayfield has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,917 yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. As a rookie, Mayfield completed better than 63 percent of his passes and finished with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

"He is a guy that, over his career, I will be stunned if he is a guy that turns the ball over a lot. He does not have that in him, he does not. He is not careless with the football," Monken said. "If you look at it, one of his interceptions, is a shovel pass at New England for god's sake. That is not his fault. It is our fault, my fault for the way we designed it and the way it turned out, so there are certain things.

"In my mind, we have the right guy going forward."

Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Bengals Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey

-- Mayfield resumed throwing at Thursday's practice after not doing any the previous day because of a bruised throwing hand. In his meeting with reporters Wednesday, Mayfield left little room for doubt about his status for Sunday's game.

"Momma didn't raise a wuss," he said, indicating the hand injury was more of a pain tolerance issue than something that would affect his throwing.

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said he liked what he saw from Mayfield and indicated Thursday's practice looked a lot like what he typically sees from his quarterback.

-- Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he's considered making a change at kick returner after Tavierre Thomas' pivotal drop last week but doesn't want to give up on one of his core special teamers just yet.

Thomas muffed a kick with less than a minute to play in the second quarter, limiting his ability to make much of a return before Cleveland's last shot at points in the first half. The Browns started at their own 6-yard line and only made it to the 36 before the quarter came to an end.

Thomas is one of four players the Browns have used at kickoff return this season. He's returned nine for an average of 20.6 yards.

"He has got to make that play and I talked to Tavierre about that," Priefer said. "I do not want to give up on him yet because it is so important to him. He has gotten better. He has improved in practice. You do not see as much in the games. We have not had a ton of opportunities, but we got to make smarter decisions back there and he just got to keep fighting."

-- Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks referenced Mack Wilson's work ethic as the biggest reason why the rookie linebacker has shown improvement each week since taking over as a starter.

Wilson, playing for an injured Christian Kirksey, has started alongside Joe Schobert since Week 3. He's second on the team with 56 tackles and also has a sack and a forced fumble.

"This guy is in here early, he is meeting with his coaches, getting extra work in. You can see the improvements, things that he may have messed up on two weeks ago, that is not an issue anymore," Wilks said. "So the thing with a rookie, it is always something new, which is great. We are not talking about the same mistakes over and over again. I am excited with his progress and the things that he is doing."

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