Baker Mayfield to sit out the preseason opener vs. the Jaguars while Case Keenum gets the start –

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Baker Mayfield can look at his trip to Jacksonville this weekend almost like a mini-vacation and not work.

Stefanski revealed on Wednesday that Mayfield will sit out the preseason opener there Saturday night, and Case Keenum will get the nod. Third-team quarterback Kyle Lauletta will also likely get playing time.

It’s a smart move by Stefanski, who knows it’s more important to keep Mayfield healthy this preseason than to give him a few reps in a meaningless preseason game, where some defenders are going extra hard to make a name for themselves.

It’s been a common theme around the NFL for starters to sit out the preseason opener. In fact, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sitting out their second preseason game too while Mason Rudolph gets the start.

With a number of other Browns starters expected to rest on Saturday night, it didn’t make sense to put Mayfield in harm’s way. Tight end David Njoku is working through a shoulder injury and will likely sit out the game. Odell Beckham Jr. is still working his way back from his ACL surgery in October, and might not play at all in preseason.

Keenum, meanwhile, can use the reps to help keep him fresh in the event he’s pressed into service this season. He put on a clinic during the Orange and Browns scrimmage on Sunday, throwing touchdown passes in each of his two cracks at the two-minute drills — against the Browns’ first-team defense. The first was a 39-yard pass on a post route to second-year tight end Harrison Bryant over Jovante Moffatt, and the second was a 1-yard score to a leaping Njoku over rookie safety Richard LeCounte.

Keenum has extensive experience running this Kevin Stefanski offense, having gone 11-3 with Stefanski as his quarterbacks coach in Minnesota in 2017. He also led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game that year, throwing 22 touchdown passes against only seven interceptions during the regular season en route to a 98.3 rating.

Keenum has served as a mentor to Mayfield, and almost another coach on the field. They’re extremely good friends, and the Browns will be in good hands if the durable Mayfield ever missed time. Remarkably he hasn’t missed a game because of injury since he took over as the starter three games into the 2018 season.

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