Cleveland has no quarterback competition. The Browns have made it clear that the starting job is Tyrod Taylor’s, but that hasn’t quieted the buzz around Baker Mayfield, who had a dazzling preseason debut last week.
The No. 1 overall pick will follow Taylor tonight and play up to two quarters against Buffalo in his first game action in front of Cleveland fans hoping he can lead them to a brighter future — just not yet.
Browns coach Hue Jackson is adamant about Mayfield learning behind Taylor and said the Heisman Trophy winner is going along with the plan.
“Baker wants to play — we all know that — but I think Baker also understands that when his time comes, the organization and myself will make the best decision when that is, and he gets that,” Jackson said. “Right now, Tyrod is our starting quarterback.”
Taylor, who went 5 for 5 in two series in last week’s win over the Giants, will get a chance to play against his former team. He said part of his drive this season comes from the Bills trading him in March despite him helping end their 17-year playoff drought last year.
“Definitely, how I think it ended there, it’s motivation for this year,” Taylor said. “Not necessarily for this game, but this year.”
Meanwhile, Bills coach Sean McDermott won’t say who’s starting for his team, but the expectation is AJ McCarron will get his turn after Nathan Peterman started in the preseason opener against Carolina last week. What’s intriguing is when Josh Allen, the No. 7 overall pick, will enter the game.
McDermott has insisted that he’s being very cautious in not wanting to rush Allen’s development. Allen went 9 of 19 for 116 yards and a touchdown in playing the entire second half against Carolina.
For Bills receiver Corey Coleman, Friday’s game will be a quick return to a place he couldn’t wait to leave. The 2016 first-round pick had two disappointing seasons with the Browns and asked to be traded when he was dropped to second-string. Browns general manager John Dorsey dealt Coleman to the Bills two weeks ago for a seventh-round pick in 2020.
Speaking of receivers, could the Browns have a new one on their roster by kickoff?
Dez Bryant was visiting the team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio, on Thursday and there was a chance the meeting could lead to the three-time Pro Bowl selection signing with Cleveland. The 29-year-old receiver was released by the Dallas Cowboys after eight seasons in April and has been waiting to latch on with another team. He turned down a three-year contract offer from Baltimore, which may still have interest in him.
Elsewhere tonight, the Giants are at Detroit, Kansas City is at Atlanta, Miami is at Carolina and Arizona is at New Orleans.
What to look for around the league:
Hey, we know you
At Ford Field, both first-year coaches could have been leading the other team.
Pat Shurmur interviewed with his hometown Lions before New York hired him, and Matt Patricia was in talks with the Giants and ended up in Detroit.
“I felt like if it had worked out here, I would have been excited about the opportunity,” said Shurmur, who went to high school near the Lions’ training facility and was a Michigan State standout. “I certainly feel great about where I’m at. I couldn’t be in a better place. I pinch myself every day being the head coach of the Giants.”
Both coaches have another thing in common: refusing to provide any hints about their plans Friday night.
Shurmur wouldn’t say if rookie running back Saquon Barkley or star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will play. Barkley missed three straight practices against the Lions because of a strained left hamstring. Beckham looked healthy, but he has not played since breaking his left ankle 10 months ago and having surgery.
Patricia, meanwhile, wouldn’t say if quarterback Matthew Stafford or defensive end Ezekiel Ansah would play in their first preseason game.
Looking to fly
After being held to one first down and 34 total yards in the first half of last week’s 17-0 loss at the Jets in their preseason opener, Atlanta will try again to get its offense moving against Kansas City.
Coach Dan Quinn held out running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and wide receiver Julio Jones and limited quarterback Matt Ryan to one series against the Jets.
Starters likely will see limited action again against the Chiefs. Quinn is looking to make decisions on young players before roster cuts later in the preseason.
Dolphins 35-year-old running back Frank Gore is expected to see his first action of the preseason as he competes for a starting spot with Kenyan Drake.
Miami will be without wide receiver DeVante Parker, who broke a finger earlier this week. Coach Adam Gase said all four quarterbacks would play, including Brock Osweiler and David Fales, who are competing for the No. 2 spot behind starter Ryan Tannehill.
Cam Newton will play into the second quarter for Carolina and coach Ron Rivera said he’d like the first-team offense to run the two-minute drill if the opportunity presents itself.
Getting an edge
The Saints are trying to see which edge pass rusher can best take pressure off 2017 All-Pro end Cameron Jordan.
Alex Okafor, who started much of last season until tearing his Achilles, had another leg injury at practice this week and it’s unclear how long he’ll be out. That raises urgency to try to get first-round draft choice Marcus Davenport ready. Davenport has missed about two weeks of practices and the preseason opener with an undisclosed ailment.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ first unit will play more this week after just one series in the opener. Sam Bradford completed his only pass for just 6 yards. The Cardinals drove for a TD on that possession behind its running game. David Johnson gained 14 yards in each of his two carries to start the game, and will likely get a pass or two thrown his way against the Saints.