Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield playing through partially torn labrum
BEREA, Ohio — As Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield likes to say about himself, "Mama didn't raise a wuss."
Mayfield has been playing through a partially torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder for the past few weeks, two league sources confirmed Thursday morning for the Beacon Journal.
NFL Network first reported the exact nature of the injury, which occurred when Mayfield's left shoulder popped out and back in Sept. 19 during a 31-21 win over the Houston Texans as he attempted to make a tackle on an interception return.
The injury has not caused Mayfield to miss a snap, and he has repeatedly refused to use it as an excuse for recent his accuracy problems.
The Browns (3-1) only listed Mayfield on their injury report for one week after the Texans game. He is not on the injury report this week in the buildup to Sunday's road game against the Los Angeles Chargers (3-1).
It's too early to tell whether Mayfield will need offseason surgery, one of the sources said.
All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin said he didn't even know the extent of Mayfield's injury prior to Thursday's news.
"Baker is day to day, the same way he is every day, and you wouldn't know if he's hurt or not," Conklin said. "He's a straightforward guy and just plays hard and doesn't show it on his face. That's for sure."
Three-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio said Mayfield hasn't let on that the injury has bothered him in games.
"I think there's no doubt in any of the players' minds that he's one of the tougher guys out there," Bitonio said. "He's going to go and he's going to battle and he's been hit and beat up before, and he just keeps coming back. You're going to have to do a lot more to get him out of games than whatever is going on with him now.
"He's just focused on trying to get better each week and trying to be the best quarterback for this team. We're trying to rally around him and protect him and put him in the best possible positions."
Mayfield lamented the accuracy woes he experienced Sunday in a 14-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings, but he did not blame the injured shoulder.
"It's attached," he said in his postgame news conference. "I'm all right."
Mayfield went 15-of-33 passing (45.5%) for 155 yards without a touchdown or an interception as the Browns (3-1) used dominant performances by their defense and rushing attack to defeat the Vikings (1-3). Mayfield posted a passer rating of 59.5, rushed twice for 11 yards and took three sacks.
Asked after the game whether the injury had anything to do with his accuracy issues in Minneapolis, Mayfield said, "Nah, it's my left shoulder. Throw with my right."
On Monday, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said via Zoom he did not believe Mayfield's injury had been affecting his accuracy.
"I don't think so," Stefanski said. "Based on what I see at practice, I don't think so."
However, Mayfield conceded Wednesday the shoulder injury has forced him to wear a harness.
Asked if the harness is affecting his throws, Mayfield said, "It shouldn't, no."
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said he doesn't know whether Mayfield's injury has affected the location of his passes.
Beckham, though, revealed he does know exactly what it's like to deal with a torn labrum. He said he has been playing through a torn left labrum for 10 years going back to his college days at Louisiana State University. It further explains why Beckham said his shoulder popped out and back in Sept. 26 in a 26-6 win over the Chicago Bears.
Beckham can throw a football extremely well — and far. Asked if a torn labrum in a non-throwing shoulder could affect Mayfield's passing, Beckham said, "I tell you, that s--- hurts, so he's tough."
"You would expect [Mayfield to play]," Beckham added. "He's not going to sit there and complain about it and do all these other things. He's just going to go out there and play. I know it's unfortunate, but it is what it is."
The trouble with Mayfield's ball placement emerged against the Bears and became glaring against the Vikings. His completion percentage through the first four games this season is as follows: 75 in Week 1 vs. Kansas City, 90.5 in Week 2 vs. Houston, 61.3 in Week 3 vs. Chicago and 45.5 in Week 4 vs. Minnesota.
Regardless of the numbers, Mayfield's teammates respect his effort.
"I'm not going to do my [Terrell Owens impression] — 'that's my quarterback' — but for real, that's how I feel," linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. said. "Him sucking it up every day for us, as a quarterback, can take a hit every play or has to throw the ball in so much pain ... when you have a quarterback like that, a leader like that, it makes you want to play a little harder."