Browns ‘sticking’ with plan to start Taylor over Mayfield
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — He’s still Baker the backup.
Despite rookie Baker Mayfield’s stellar performance in his NFL preseason debut, the Cleveland Browns are not moving the No. 1 overall pick into the starting lineup ahead of Tyrod Taylor.
“National hype,” quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese said, downplaying the outside push to elevate Mayfield after one game. “We have our plan, we’re sticking to it and when it changes we’ll all know.”
Mayfield won over some doubters on Thursday night in a 20-10 win over the New York Giants. The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma threw two touchdown passes to tight end David Njoku and showed pocket poise and awareness while completing 11 of 20 passes for 212 yards.
The reviews on Mayfield were exceptional, leading to cries that he should jump Taylor, who went 5 for 5 for 99 yards and posted a perfect 158.3 rating during his two series.
Following Sunday’s practice, Browns coach Hue Jackson began shaking his head the moment a reporter began framing a question about the QB situation.
“Nothing’s changed. Tyrod Taylor is our starter,” Jackson said. “Baker Mayfield is a young, talented player. We have a bright, bright future here with that young man.”
Zampese was pleased with everything he saw from Mayfield, but he cautioned against making too much of his first taste of pro football.
“He’s had 22 preseason NFL snaps,” Zampese said. “He has a long way to go and we’re encouraged with where he’s at right now.”
The feeling is the same about Taylor, who was acquired from Buffalo during the offseason. The 29-year-old has been everything the Browns could have hoped as a leader and mentor to Mayfield.
“He’s our guy, and that’s what he is,” Zampese said, “and to keep bringing it up is the only reason why anybody put a cloud in anybody’s head. So let’s get on with him being the guy and let’s get on to playing and winning and doing what we’re supposed to do and what we’re here for.”
Zampese, who previously worked as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, gushed when describing what Taylor has brought to the Browns — and what he means to Mayfield.
“Tyrod sets the bar for consistency,” Zampese said. “There’s no doubt about it. There’s no man I can think of more consistent than him — when he gets here, how he is when he’s here, taking care of his body, study habits, leading the team on the field. The bar is set very high. It’s fantastic.”
During his interview session, Zampese bristled at the idea that Taylor was just holding the spot until Mayfield is ready.
“I’m not going to talk about keeping the seat warm,” Zampese snapped. “I think he’s going to be very successful for us this year, which is the only year that matters. And I like where he’s at, I like where he’s going, I love his leadership, the way he’s aggressively going about being the leader of this team, completing balls and moving us down the field.”
Zampese said it took him “about a minute” to like Taylor when they met. He said the quarterback’s preparedness and attention to detail have been extraordinary. As far as Zampese is concerned, the seven-year veteran is just scratching the surface of his potential.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg for Tyrod,” Zampese said. “He’s an untapped player in the league. He’s done some really nice things so far in the league and I think it’s only going to get better.”
NOTES: Jackson said he punished rookie WR Antonio Callaway by making him play as much as possible Thursday. Callaway was cited last week for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license. He played 54 snaps. “Either you sit him or make him play,” Jackson said. “I thought it was better to make him play, make him play as long as he could. There were a couple times he kept waving to come out. We said, ‘No, stay in there.’” Callaway is dealing with a rib issue and didn’t finish Sunday’s practice. ... Jackson said he and his assistants are aligned on when to rest injury-prone players. On the first episode of “Hard Knocks,” Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley seemed to be at odds over keeping players out.