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Rather than buy a new ride, Cleveland Browns players would prefer to refurbish their existing one. As Browns players tell it, the key to their offense is quarterback Baker Mayfield, whom they insist is more than just a bag of bolts.
“I really do have all the faith in the world in him,” said Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio.
Mayfield could use his teammates’ faith as well as a tune up. Injuries and inconsistency often left the former No. 1 overall pick stuck in reverse this year as the leader of a Browns offense that failed to live up to pre-season expectations.
#Browns Joel Bitonio on Baker Mayfield: "He's gonna have this surgery, I think he's gonna come back with a vengeance."
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) January 10, 2022
The Browns offense ended the season ranked in the bottom half of the league, scoring just over 20 points per game. A reasonable explanation for their lack of success was a shoulder injury Mayfield suffered in a Week Two win over Houston. As head coach Kevin Stefanski previously noted, the shoulder injury requires offseason surgery and clearly hampered Mayfield’s play.
“He had every reason to quit, and he could have rested. He could have had surgery Week Two and not played much this year, but he stuck it out for us and he fought for us every game, every day,” said running back Nick Chubb.
Plenty of fans and media would have preferred to have the hobbled Mayfield sit idle and heal his busted wing, but his teammates appreciated his willingness to keep steering the Cleveland offense.
“He got injured,” added Bitonio. “He’s an ultimate competitor, and he wanted to be out there with his teammates, and he wanted to play through an injury, multiple injuries that other guys in the league were out for the season with, had surgery right away.’’
Mayfield finished his fourth pro season with career-lows in passing yards (3,010) and touchdowns (17), but he still managed to impress his teammates.
“You can never question that guy’s toughness,’’ said Bitonio Monday. “The guy’s a fighter, and I know he’s going to bounce back. He’s going to have this surgery, and he’s going to come back with a vengeance and he’s going to be confident in himself again.”
Mayfield, 26, is expected to undergo surgery within the next two weeks. His recovery and rehab will keep him parked until this spring’s OTAs.
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