Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield expected to start Saturday in Green Bay, coach Kevin Stefanski says

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates after a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

A plane will be waiting to fly Baker Mayfield to Green Bay on Saturday, and Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he wouldn’t hesitate to start the quarterback against the Packers despite his lack of on-field preparation.

Mayfield hasn’t practiced since Dec. 10 and was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Dec. 15. But that won’t stand in the way if Mayfield clears COVID-19 protocols and is deemed healthy to play in the Christmas Day game at Lambeau Field.

“If he’s healthy as he’s been and he’s cleared and he’s ready to go, then I anticipate him playing,” Stefanski said Thursday.

Stefanski expects players to be activated after their 10-day quarantine, and that would be Saturday for Mayfield. Stefanski tested positive the same day and returned to Browns headquarters on Wednesday.

If Mayfield tests negative on Friday, he will travel with the team.

“We’re taking this day by day,” Stefanski said. “Tomorrow we’ll see if he tests out and he’s available to be with us tomorrow. If not, we’ll take it obviously to Saturday.”

Defensive tackle Malik McDowell also tested positive on the same day as Mayfield and could be on that gameday flight, Stefanski said.

Stefanski said he expects receiver Jarvis Landry and left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. to be activated when their 10-day quarantine ends on Friday. They tested positive on Dec. 14.

Mayfield is vaccinated and was asymptomatic when he went on the list. On Sunday, he posted on his Instagram story that was still the case and he hoped to play in Monday’s home game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

“Blessed to be healthy and have had no symptoms,” Mayfield wrote Sunday. “Praying to test negative for Covid.”

NFLPA president tests positive: Browns center JC Tretter tests positive for COVID-19; Grant Delpit, James Hudson III activated

That didn’t happen, as the Browns (7-7) had 22 players — including Mayfield and his backup Case Keenum — on the reserve/COVID-19 list, along with three coaches, and fell 16-14 to the Raiders behind third-string quarterback Nick Mullens.

That group included Stefanski, acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell, whom Stefanski said Thursday had cleared the protocols, and offensive assistant T.C. McCartney, still on the list.

Last season, the COVID-19 stricken Browns held a walkthrough in a parking garage before a 23-16 road loss to the New York Jets. The Browns will do the same Saturday, although perhaps not in the same kind of venue, because of the 4:30 p.m. kickoff.

“That’s something that we typically do on a late afternoon start like this and that is the benefit certainly if we are able to get Baker back like we anticipate, if not tomorrow,” Stefanski said.

Stefanski didn’t seem to have any qualms about Mayfield’s lack of practice as the Browns held only one regular session this week.

“There are moving parts throughout this,” Stefanski said. “With Baker and any of the players who haven’t practiced, you have to understand those players have banked many, many reps. With the quarterback, we have plays and concepts and things in that we have many, many reps in going back to training camp, going back to last year.t”

Baltimore Ravens running back Devonta Freeman, center, is tackled by Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (28), and defensive back Grant Delpit during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Baltimore Ravens running back Devonta Freeman, center, is tackled by Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (28), and defensive back Grant Delpit during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah unfazed by Lambeau Field: ‘Some good cheese, I’m assuming’

Browns rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah played at Notre Dame, a stadium considered the most iconic in college football. So he is unfazed by the trip to Lambeau Field, the NFL’s legendary counterpart.

“They have a stadium, they’ve got seats, they’ve got a grass field, they’ve got people in ‘em,” he said. “This thing we commonly see in the NFL, they have some good fans, some good cheese I’m assuming, but we’ll be ready.”

Green Bay is 6-0 at Lambeau this season, the only team undefeated at home, and is 20-2 dating back to 2019, its .919 winning percentage the best in the league in that span.

Cleveland Browns safety John Johnson III ruled out for Green Bay Packers game with hamstring injury

Browns safety John Johnson III was ruled out against the Packers with a hamstring injury suffered Monday, and defensive end Myles Garrett (groin) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (knee) were questionable.

The Browns are missing both starting safeties, with Ronnie Harrison Jr. placed on the reserve COVID-19 list on Dec. 16. He would have to test negative ahead of his 10-day quarantine window to play in Green Bay.

The Browns will have to count on Delpit, along with M.J. Stewart Jr., Richard LeCounte III and Jovante Moffatt. Stewart played all 69 of the defensive snaps against the Raiders.

Stefanski called the plan at safety “fluid.”

“Ronnie could come back,” Stefanski said. “Very happy to get Grant back, and we will determine in what capacity based on how he is doing, how he is feeling, and those types of things. I feel confident that with Grant, with M.J., with Jovante Moffatt, and with Richard LeCounte, I feel like we have guys back there that we can count on.”

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns plan to start quarterback Baker Mayfield at Green Bay