Browns’ May­field waits turn as backup

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - BY TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer

BEREA, OHIO — Baker May­field stood 15 yards away from a semi­cir­cle of cam­eras with a mem­ber of Cleve­land’s me­dia re­la­tions staff as Browns start­ing quar­ter­back Ty­rod Tay­lor was pep­pered with ques­tions.

May­field held his ground and waited his turn in line.

For now, this is life for the No. 1 over­all draft pick — and the No. 2 QB in Cleve­land.

Along with learn­ing a new play­book, of­fen­sive sys­tem, foot­bal­lob­sessed city and ev­ery­thing else that comes with be­ing a rookie, May­field is get­ting a crash course in pa­tience in the ini­tial stages of his NFL career.

He’s a backup, and un­less there’s a dra­matic change over the next two months, it will likely be May­field’s role this sea­son for the Browns.

“I’m not wor­ried about it,” May­field said when asked if he felt like a backup. “I’m just try­ing to get bet­ter every day. We’re still early in June, this is just the sec­ond mini­camp day and so I’m not wor­ried about that now.”

This is new, and yet not un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory for May­field, who went from be­ing a walk-on at Oklahoma to a gun-sling­ing, trash-talk­ing Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner last sea­son.

The Browns drafted him first to be their long-term starter, their fran­chise QB, their fran­chise’s face. But right now, May­field is slot­ted be­hind Tay­lor, who took Buf­falo to the play­offs last sea­son and has been so im­pres­sive dur­ing his first few months in Cleve­land.

May­field is not only ac­cept­ing his role, but he’s mod­el­ing him­self af­ter Tay­lor. It’s easy now be­cause the sea­son seems far away and each day brings a new chal­lenge to over­come.

But when train­ing camp rolls around next month, May­field knows it’s go­ing to be much harder to ac­cept that he’s not the one tak­ing snaps with Cleve­land’s starters.

“It’s hu­man na­ture,” May­field said. “Yeah, you want to play, but I wasn’t brought here to just start. I was brought here to help turn this thing around and what­ever my role is that’s what I need to do — whether that’s play­ing scout team or be­ing the best backup pos­si­ble or play­ing. So for me, I’m not wor­ried about that. I need to be pre­pared for when I do get my shot to be ready to play, but other than that I just gotta con­tinue get­ting bet­ter and im­prov­ing this team as well.”

May­field be­lieves he’s made sig­nif­i­cant strides since rookie mini­camp. With each prac­tice, he senses the game slow­ing down. He’s get­ting more con­fi­dent in the pocket. He’s see­ing the field. He’s de­ci­pher­ing com­pli­cated de­fenses.

He’s bet­ter, but May­field is far from be­ing a fin­ished prod­uct.

“Hu­man na­ture, es­pe­cially for me, I want to have it all fig­ured out all right now, but that is just not how it works,” he said. “It is about re­al­iz­ing that we are go­ing to have to take baby steps right now to get to where I want to go. You do not build a great cas­tle all at once. You have to build it block by block. For me, that is how I need to han­dle it.”

Tay­lor does, too. He was once in May­field’s shoes, sit­ting be­hind Joe Flacco in Bal­ti­more. He also knows how quickly things can change af­ter be­ing benched last sea­son by the Bills de­spite hav­ing them in the play­off race.

Tay­lor has been im­pressed with May­field’s thirst to im­prove.

“He is ask­ing ques­tions,” Tay­lor said. “He is try­ing to learn the play­book, as well as every­one else is. He is com­pet­ing. He is a rookie. He is try­ing to gain as much knowl­edge as pos­si­ble.”

[AP PHOTO]

Cleve­land Browns quar­ter­back Baker May­field (6) talks with quar­ter­back Bro­gan Roback (3) on Wed­nes­day dur­ing prac­tice at the NFL foot­ball team’s train­ing camp in Berea, Ohio.

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