Nobody can say Baker Mayfield isn't optimistic.
On Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns quarterback left two doors open regarding his shoulder injury: one to potentially play this Sunday, and another in suggesting that surgery might not be necessary. The latter concern won't be addressed for some time; more pressing is Mayfield's availability for Sunday's home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. After missing last week's win over the Denver Broncos, Mayfield said Wednesday that he could be back for the Steelers game, with a caveat:
"If I'm going to hurt the team, I'm not going to go," he said, per Jen Steer of Fox8 News.
Coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters that Mayfield would get the starters' reps in practice Wednesday, with Case Keenum backing him up. The QB was officially listed as a limited participant.
Dealing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, Mayfield's playing status is of critical importance to a 4-3 Browns team battling to keep up in a strong AFC North division where no team currently has a losing record. The Steelers (3-3) are at the bottom of the division. According to Mayfield, there has been no discussion about whether he should shut down for the season, and added that surgery is no certainty, per the Associated Press' Tom Withers.
Mayfield's positive outlook falls right in line with comments he made prior to missing the Broncos game, when he expressed a strong desire to play just two days before the game, and a day before he was ruled out.
Mayfield has completed 116 of 173 passes this season for 1,474 yards and a 67.1 completion percentage that would mark a career best. His shoulder was initially injured in a Week 2 win over the Houston Texans, but Mayfield remained in the starting lineup; he re-injured the shoulder in a Week 6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, forcing him to miss the Broncos game.