How that translates during the season will be determined by how Mayfield does during training camp and preseason games, when the competition and intensity level ratchet higher, and by whether Tyrod Taylor continues to show the same level of professionalism and play he has shown in offseason work.
“[Taylor’s] held up his end of the bargain with not just the way he works but the way he plays and the way he leads,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday.
With Mayfield, it almost feels like he has to realize he needs to press the brakes sooner than he wants.
“Human nature, especially for me, is I want to have it all figured out right now, but that’s just not how it works,” Mayfield said. “It’s about realizing we are going to have to take baby steps right now to get to where I want to go. You don’t build a great castle just all at once. You got to build it block by block.
“For me, that’s how I need to handle it.”
Mayfield has been taking the snaps with the second team. But, at this point, he said he’s not thinking in terms of being the Browns backup or his position on the depth chart.
“We’re still early in June,” he said.
Jackson tried to balance giving Mayfield his credit while also recognizing he is a rookie learning the game. In some ways it’s not easy to judge where rookies are at this point of the offseason. A year ago DeShone Kizer was going through the same growing pains and he wound up starting 15 games.
“The biggest message I sent with Baker is keep working,” Jackson said of the time before training camp.
Mayfield said he has weekly projects planned for the five-week break. He started at rookie camp learning and then refining how he takes the snap from center, then progressed to learning playcalls and the system. Now he said he’s refining the details.
“Something I always need to be focused on is protection,” he said. “I’m going to continue to learn those, know I can put myself in a good spot to where I don’t have to worry about blitzes. … So I’m not looking at the rush. I can look down the field and read coverages.
“For me that’s the biggest next step I can take.”
In one sense, Mayfield’s progression is admirable. He has gone from a rookie with zero knowledge of the offense to working with the second team.
But Jackson has committed to Taylor as the team’s starter while downplaying Mayfield’s spot on the depth chart. Jackson says he just wants him to learn and grow with as many different players as he can.
“Right now I’m trying to find a consistency,” Mayfield said.
The Browns made it clear to Mayfield when they picked him that his time might arrive immediately, that they acquired Taylor for a reason. They will not hold Mayfield back if he proves himself better, but the game becomes different when the pads go on in camp.
“Like I said, it’s human nature you want to play,” Mayfield said. “I wasn’t brought here to just start, I was brought here to help turn this thing around. 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. For me, not worrying 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.”