Battered QBs take center stage in Lions vs. Browns matchup

Coming off their worst loss of the season, the Cleveland Browns are hoping to get well against the visiting Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Cleveland (5-5) is battered and bruised, and it was beaten badly at New England last week (45-7) in a game that saw quarterback Baker Mayfield add to his list of injuries this season. Mayfield couldn’t finish the game after suffering a second-half knee injury.

That injury, along with his mangled left shoulder and nagging foot injury, leaves Mayfield “probably the most beat up” of his career. Mayfield did not participate in practice on Wednesday, but said he expects to play against the Lions (0-8-1).

“It is not like it is one particular thing; it is multiple,” Mayfield said. “It is just that time of the year, and things add up. Just a couple of things after another. It is what it is.”

Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said the team would monitor Mayfield throughout the week but was confident he would be in the lineup on Sunday.

“I am confident that he will make it,” Stefanski said. “We will never put a player out there who is not ready, but if he is ready to go, he will play on Sunday.”

The Browns, who have lost three of five and sunk to the bottom of the AFC North, may need him.

Case Keenum is the backup, but Cleveland will play again without running back Kareem Hunt (calf) for a fifth straight week. Nick Chubb, third in the NFL with 721 rushing yards, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week and still has not returned.

“I don’t really have an update,” Stefanski said about Chubb. “We’re just going to follow the protocol.”

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The Lions haven’t won a game since Dec. 6, 2020, but came close last week in a 16-16 tie at Pittsburgh. Detroit also enters with a 16-4 edge all-time against Cleveland and brings a four-game winning streak against the Browns.

But the Lions rank tied for 30th in the NFL in scoring (16.7 points per game) and 30th in scoring defense (28.9). And now there’s questions about the health of QB Jared Goff (oblique), who also missed Wednesday’s practice.

“We’re taking it day-to-day and he’s going to sit today and then we’ll reassess tomorrow and see how he’s feeling,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said.

If Goff can’t go, Detroit is prepping Tim Boyle to be the starter on Sunday. Boyle is still in his 21-day injured reserve practice window after breaking his thumb in the Lions’ preseason finale. David Blough is still positioned as the backup.

“It’s being able to function fully,” Goff said Wednesday. “We’ll see. It has gotten better since the game. Will it be better by Sunday? I don’t know.”

In either scenario, Detroit will try to continue to lean on D’Andre Swift, who had a career-high 33 carries for 130 yards at Pittsburgh. A ground game is one way to close down Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, who leads the NFL with 13 sacks and has notched at least one in six straight games.

Garrett (personal reasons) joined Mayfield and five other Browns as DNPs on Wednesday. CBs A.J. Green (concussion) and Troy Hill (neck), DT Malik Jackson (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (knee) and WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion) all sat out practice.

RB Jermar Jefferson (knee/ankle), OT Matt Nelson (ankle) and OLB Trey Flowers (knee) were all non-participants for Detroit on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media