OBJ doesn’t practice, Mayfield better for banged-up Browns


CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield finally fired some passes on Friday — none to Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham missed another practice with the Browns due to COVID-19 protocols, but Mayfield, who has been slowed this week by sore ribs, appears ready to play in Sunday’s hyped AFC North matchup against the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers.

Beckham’s status remains uncertain after Cleveland’s star wide receiver was kept away from the team’s facility for the second straight day. He was sent home feeling ill on Thursday.

Beckham tested negative for coronavirus on Friday, but per league guidelines, he can’t rejoin his teammates and practice until he has a second negative COVID test within a 24-hour period. The team listed him as questionable for the matchup against the Steelers (4-0).

Coach Kevin Stefanski offered few details about Beckham other than saying he’s improving and that he’ll play Sunday — if cleared.

“He is doing better, yes,” said Stefanski, noting that Beckham has taken part in Zoom meetings. “If all goes according to plan for tomorrow, you spend even more time and you spend even more walk-through time. I think there is enough time to catch him up, barring his health.”

A three-time Pro Bowler with a knack for game-changing plays, Beckham has been a big reason why the Browns (4-1) are off their best start in 26 years.

The league has instructed teams to keep players, coaches and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 out of team facilities even if they could be caused by the flu or a cold.

The Browns had zero positive tests Friday and their building in Berea, Ohio remained open. There was some concern of virus spread in Cleveland because Indianapolis had to briefly shut down its facility after several positive tests. The Browns beat the Colts 32-23 on Sunday.

Beckham is one of several notable Cleveland players dealing with injuries — and listed as questionable — as the Browns, who have lost 16 games in a row at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, get set for one of their biggest games in years.

Mayfield looked good throwing passes during the portion of the workout open to media members. He’s been dealing with an injured right side sustained against the Colts, but Stefanski said his quarterback “is trending in the right direction.”

“Like we have been saying all along, he is improving every day,” Stefanski said.

It’s been a challenging 24 hours for the Browns with Beckham’s situation, Mayfield’s uncertainty and other injuries.

“That is 2020. We are prepared,” Stefanski said. “We are just looking to find a way. Whatever comes our way, we will be ready to deal with.”

While they await Beckham’s return, the Browns did get wide receiver Jarvis Landry back after he was limited with hip and rib issues. Also, starting defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi seems poised to play after missing last week’s game with an abdominal injury. Both are questionable.

Safeties Ronnie Harrison (concussion) and Karl Joseph (hamstring) are out Sunday. Sheldrick Redwine, who came in for Harrison last week and had an interception in the fourth quarter, will start alongside Andrew Sendejo.

Punter Jamie Gillan injured his groin in practice Thursday and is also questionable. Stefanski said kicker Cody Parkey would handle punting duties as well if Gillan can’t play.