Shoulder harness ‘handcuffed’ Baker Mayfield, says Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, December 12, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo / David Richard)

Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said the harness Baker Mayfield wore over his left shoulder had “handcuffed him a bit” this season, an issue raised again after Mayfield had four interceptions, a high in career, in a Christmas loss to Green Bay.

But Van Pelt added that he expects Mayfield to improve next season when he no longer has to wear such a restrictive support, in hopes that Mayfield will undergo surgery to repair the labrum completely. torn in his non-pitching shoulder suffered in Week 2. Mayfield went to a bigger, heavier harness for the shoulder after sustaining a further injury in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.

“It shows, for sure. It definitely handcuffed him a bit with his ability to sideline that left side, ”Van Pelt said on Friday. “There are a few things that are unique to his style of throwing that he does and manages to do. These are technical things; we can work on those.

“But hopefully next year without the harness you will see Baker come back to normal with his normal throwing mechanics. But it was definitely something that got in his way, he fought. I have a lot of respect for the fact that he fought, we know he is injured. This is where I’m going to leave this. But there are some things you can do to help them out there. We have also tried them.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he believed Mayfield had adapted to the harness and didn’t seem so willing to use it as an excuse for Mayfield’s play.

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Mayfield’s 86.1 quarterback score is the second lowest in his four seasons, well below the 95.9 hours he posted in 2020. In 2021, he completed 62.4% (also his second lowest) for 2,825 yards and 15 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

Mayfield will try to bounce back from his poor performance on Monday Night Football, when the Browns (7-8) face the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) at Heinz Field.

“I think with any player, whether they wear a knee pad or something with their ankle or their arm – obviously for the quarterback’s left arm as opposed to the right arm – there’s always work and feel comfortable with these things, ”Stefanski said on Friday. “And I think it was really early for Baker, to work on that and get familiar with that through practice reps, that sort of thing. I know he changed his harness from the start as well. So, I would just say it’s to get used to this stuff. “

When asked if Mayfield’s injury and change in harness affected the way he evaluates Mayfield, Stefanski said: “I don’t want to characterize it as a footnote like you said, but it’s not something I think about a lot. I think it’s one of those things he’s definitely been working on, but we’re focusing on how he looks in training, how he looks in games, and he did a good job. “

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Stefanski believes Mayfield has adjusted enough that the harness isn’t a problem in Green Bay. Mayfield had not trained since December 10 after testing positive for COVID-19 and flew to Wisconsin on the morning of the game.

“You can ask Baker, I would trust what he says, but just watch him in training yesterday and watch him in training throughout this season and make good decisions, throw the ball with precision. , so I see it, ”Stefanski said.

Baker Mayfield leaves the field after the Browns' loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Baker Mayfield leaves the field after the Browns’ loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Mayfield said on Thursday he hasn’t really learned how to compensate for the support he has on his left shoulder.

“There’s not much I can do to overcome the harness and the restrictions because it protects me. That’s what it is,” he said.

“I think it comes down to trusting my fundamentals, my throwing movement and finishing my target. That was the biggest problem just keeping that momentum going towards the target. Obviously, if you’re teaching a kid to. 5 years how to throw, you end up towards your target in terms of momentum, [otherwise] you will fall off your back foot and the ball will fly over you. It’s just little things like that. It’s just something I had to get used to.

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Van Pelt’s comments were the strongest indication that the Browns believe Mayfield can return to his 2020 form, or even that of his rookie season. The Browns could still bring stronger competition than substitute Case Keenum for Mayfield next season, the final year of his rookie contract. The Browns haven’t extended Mayfield’s contract this season.

Fox Sports analyst Troy Aikman pointed out Mayfield’s harness during the broadcast of the Browns’ 24-22 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

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When asked if the harness was affecting Mayfield more than he expected, Van Pelt replied, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s anything you’d say, ‘Hey, can you put me on? a harness and let me go out and play? If we had a choice, if he had a choice, obviously he wouldn’t have.

“It’s like anything else, if I hurt my right hand, eventually I’ll start eating with the left using a fork.” It’s still… I prefer to eat with my right hand. It affected him, I’m sure. You try to minimize it as much as possible. He always makes great throws with it. But obviously not wearing it would be beneficial.

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Van Pelt didn’t seem to believe that Mayfield’s mechanics will need to be rebuilt next season when he is no longer wearing the harness.

“No I don’t think so. I think it will come very naturally, it will come back very quickly,” Van Pelt said.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield Limited by Left Shoulder Harness