Baker Mayfield was back on the practice fields Thursday at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus, a strong sign he's trending in the right direction toward starting Sunday.
Mayfield was held out of practice Wednesday, giving him an extra day to recover from the three injuries he's nursing. He admitted he's as beat up as he's ever been during his playing career but was optimistic he'll be ready to roll Sunday against the Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was the latest to echo that belief.
"He is as tough of a mental guy as I have been around," Van Pelt said. "I do not think it will affect him. He prepares himself as well as anybody I have been around during the week of preparation. He does a great job of trying to get healthy and taking care of his body each week. I think once you get to game day, the juices get flowing, and those injuries, they are sore, but they are not as sore with all of the adrenaline of the game.
"Hopefully, he will continue to heal and feel better each week, but it is tough, and he is battling through, much like a lot of our guys right now."
The Lions, meanwhile, have a little more uncertainty at the quarterback position.
Regular starter Jared Goff has not practiced this week because of an oblique injury he suffered in the Lions' tie with the Steelers last week. Tim Boyle, who has thrown four passes in his NFL career, is running the Lions' first-team offense at practice and could be called upon if Goff is unable to play. Boyle has been on injured reserve all season because of a thumb injury but was recently designated to return.
Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn told reporters in Detroit the team's playbook wouldn't be affected if Boyle were the starter. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday the Lions' uncertainty at QB wouldn't affect his team's preparation.
D'Ernest Just Delivers
One of the bright spots from Sunday's loss in New England was the performance of D'Ernest Johnson, who continued to serve as a dependable option out of the backfield, especially in unsavory circumstances.
Johnson was the only running back to see the field and finished with 157 yards of offense, as the Browns played without Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Demetric Felton and John Kelly.
In his two starts this season, Johnson has amassed 245 rushing yards and 80 receiving yards. Van Pelt was particularly pleased with the mindset and effort Johnson gave for all four quarters.
I will take you to the last play offensively for us, he catches the ball out of the backfield and runs down the field – whatever it was, 15 yards – and he had two defenders coming in on him. Nine out of 10 backs in this league would have stepped out of bounds, and he put his shoulder down," Van Pelt said. "This guy loves football, and I love that he is in our room."
Johnson on Thursday was reunited on the practice fields with Kelly, who was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Chubb and Felton remain on the list and are considered day to day.
TEs Ready To Help
The Browns have been hit hard by injuries at wide receiver, as Jarvis Landry continues to battle through a knee injury while Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) and Anthony Schwartz (concussion) were unable to practice Thursday.
Browns wide receivers accounted for just five catches for 52 yards in last week's loss. Asked if he was ready to help lift up the passing game after last week's struggles and the aforementioned injuries, TE David Njoku smiled.
"I feel like whether they are they or they are not, that we should as a whole step up and really help the team do what we have to do," Njoku said. "With whatever happens, we have to be well prepared."
Still, the Browns want to get more from the position group, and Van Pelt was adamant they were focused on finding more ways to get the ball in the hands of a playmaker such as Landry.
"Just find ways, whether it is quick throws, double moves or get him involved in the run game," Van Pelt said. "Whatever it is, but he needs to touch the ball more, and we are aware of that."