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    Baker Mayfield (shoulder) out, Case Keenum to start for Browns vs. Broncos

    Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will miss his first start since 2018. Case Keenum will start in the Browns vs. Broncos TNF clash.

    The Cleveland Browns‘ concern for Baker Mayfield’s well-being has superseded Mayfield’s desire to play. The Browns announced Wednesday that Mayfield will not play Thursday against the Denver Broncos after Mayfield aggravated an already painful left shoulder injury in Week 6. Case Keenum will start.

    Browns’ Baker Mayfield out vs. Broncos

    “Case Keenum will be our starter tomorrow night, and we have full confidence in him to lead us and do the things necessary to put us in position to win,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in a statement provided to the Browns’ website.

    “Baker fought really hard to play, he’s a competitor and obviously wants to be out there but just couldn’t make it on a short week. We know he will continue to do everything in his power to return as quickly as possible.”

    The decision will end a 51-game start streak that dates back to 2018. But it will also give Mayfield two full weeks to get right. Mayfield on Sunday dislocated his left shoulder for the second time in four weeks. He’s also playing through what he described as “a completely torn labrum” in the same shoulder. The shoulder has made it difficult to sleep, and he acknowledged that Sunday’s pain was worse than when he first injured the shoulder weeks prior.

    And yet, when Mayfield met with reporters Tuesday, he said he expected to play against Denver. But he also had a sense that team doctors might take that decision out of his hands.

    “I am not going to get into the details of that stuff,” Mayfield said when asked if he’s been advised to sit out Thursday. “What I decide and what our team decides, the people I trust are going to be wholeheartedly for the best in my interests in mind so we will talk about it and go from there.”

    The injury must have been impacting Mayfield’s performance. He’s missed throws that he in the past would consistently make, and his bad throw rate (21.1%) is the worst of his career. Mayfield’s QBR (41.6) ranks 25th in football.

    Case Keenum to make first start for Browns

    So, beyond concern for Mayfield’s well-being, perhaps Cleveland on some level decided it was in the team’s competitive interests to sit him down for a week.

    Keenum will make his first start since Week 8 of the 2019 season. Keenum, who has had stints with the Washington Football Team, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, and Houston Texans in his 10 NFL seasons, has lost 10 of his last 11 starts.

    He’s a career 62.3% passer who has thrown 75 touchdowns, 47 interceptions, and has averaged just 6.9 yards per attempt.

    His best season came with the Vikings in 2017, helping Minnesota win a division championship by completing 67% of his attempts for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns. His position coach that year? Kevin Stefanski.

    “I’m excited,” Keenum said Wednesday. “What better chance to take advantage of an opportunity than on Thursday Night Football? I know these opportunities don’t come around very often, to be a starting quarterback in this league. Only 32 per week. I’m ready to take advantage of it.”

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