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When COVID protocols forced the NFL to audible and move Cleveland’s Saturday game with Vegas to Monday, the Browns were hopeful to have quarterback Baker Mayfield back under center. They’ll get Nick Mullens instead.
Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, neither Mayfield or backup Case Keenum tested out of COVID protocols.
News broke late Monday morning that only one Browns player, safety John Johnson III, has tested out of the reserve/COVID-9 list. Meaning, Cleveland’s top two quarterbacks, Mayfield and Keenum will be forced to watch from home as the Browns fringe-playoff hopes ride the arm of third-stringer Mullens.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 20, 2021
Cleveland’s roster has been decimated by COVID positives, with the overwhelming majority of players and coaches (including Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski) being asymptomatic and feeling fine. As of this morning, the Browns had 22 players on the COVID list and needed to activate seven players from the practice squad in order to have enough players to field a roster.
Among those who will miss the game are starters Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, Jadeveon Clowney, Ronnie Harrison, Jedrick Wills and a host of others. A win would place 7-6 Cleveland in first place in the AFC North. That seems increasingly unlikely given the current status of the Browns’ roster.
Now it’s on Mullens to try and do the unlikely, if not impossible. As recently as last week he was on the Browns’ practice squad. He hasn’t taken a snap in a regular season game since Week 15 of last fall, when he made a spot start for the 49ers.
Las Vegas and Cleveland kickoff at 5pm EST, giving NFL fans a few more hours to familiarize themselves with names like Brian Allen, Hjalte Froholdt, Herb Miller, and Tedric Thompson, all of whom will join Mullens in the Browns lineup for what is essentially a playoff game.
Recognizing Cleveland’s tall task, FanDuel Sportsbook has adjusted their line to show the Raiders as 2.5 point road favorites.
Follow along on Twitter: @OhioAF