Baker Mayfield came out firing at Wednesday's practice, and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt couldn't recall seeing any of his passes hit the ground.
Because of contact tracing in the wake of two positive COVID-19 tests, the Browns didn't hit the field until 4:30 p.m. for their first practice since Sunday's disappointing loss to the Jets. The delay certainly didn't hinder Mayfield, who had "a perfect day," Van Pelt said.
The Browns will be looking for more of the same as the week progresses as they prepare for Sunday's must-win showdown with the Steelers.
"Practice yesterday was incredible," Van Pelt said Thursday. "He threw the ball with extreme accuracy. Everything was perfect. I think he had the perfect day of practice. I know he is locked in. He is dialed in. Now, we just have to go with the bumps in the road here and then turn it loose on gameday."
Van Pelt said he noticed Mayfield walk into the facility with "a little bit of a surly mood," and Van Pelt loved it.
"I could tell that he was locked in and ready to go," Van Pelt said. "He ripped every ball he threw and bounced one off of a helmet that was just absolutely fired. He was locked in. We did not have a long practice, but he was perfect, and yes, statistically, yes."
After Wednesday's practice, Mayfield said the Browns were treating Sunday's game as the start of their playoffs. If Cleveland wins Sunday, it will clinch its first trip to the postseason since 2002, and Mayfield expressed confidence the Steelers would get the best version of the Browns after last week's setback to the Jets.
Mayfield said he's had his back against the wall plenty of times throughout his career, and this was merely the latest occasion. That was more music to Van Pelt's ears.
"He is a guy that is resilient," Van Pelt said. "He has had his back against the wall multiple times in his career, and he comes out swinging. That is what we expect from him."
Stefanski said he was pleased to see LBs Sione Takitaki and Tae Davis get on the field at Wednesday's practice. Both players are dealing with ankle injuries.
Their status takes on even more importance this week as the Browns prepare for Sunday's game knowing they'll be without veterans B.J. Goodson and Malcolm Smith, who are both on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
"We will see how the rest of the week goes, but I was pleased to see them out there moving around," Stefanski said. "That was a positive."
G Nick Harris (knee) and T Kendall Lamm (illness) were projected to sit out their second straight day of practice before it was canceled.
G Wyatt Teller (ankle) was limited at Wednesday's practice, his first in weeks. The Browns could get a major boost if he's able to return alongside T Jedrick Wills Jr., who missed the Jets game with an illness but was a full participant at Wednesday's practice.
"Looked good to me. He is working through it," Stefanski said. "We will see how the rest of this week goes."
Confident in Cody
Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer expressed disappointment with K Cody Parkey’s recent missed kicks but is confident the veteran will bounce back Sunday.
"Cody is such an even-keeled guy," Priefer said. "I think he handles everything quite well. Typically, he will not miss two in a row, not even in practice. I think he will bounce back this week. He knows how important he is to the success of his football team. I am not into predictions, but I feel real good about him going out performing well on Sunday."
Parkey is 18-of-21 on the season on field goals and 40-of-44 on extra points. Of those seven combined misses, four have come in the past three games, including three missed extra points.
"The last couple have been completely different, one he pushed right and one he pulled left," Priefer said. "We have talked about it. He has worked on it. He is working on it again today. It is frustrating for him, as well as for our football team. He knows he has to make those kicks, and he needs to make them stretch to help us obviously win this game and hopefully keep going."
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers