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Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry among five Browns activated from COVID-19 list; kicker Chase McLaughlin tests positive

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The COVID-19-ravaged Browns received reinforcements Friday as they face the supreme challenge of taking on the league’s top team.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Jarvis Landry were among five activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list as the Browns (7-7) headed to Green Bay for Saturday’s nationally televised game against the Packers (11-3) in Lambeau Field.

Also activated from that list were backup quarterback Case Keenum, cornerback A.J. Green and defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.

The moves with Mayfield, Keenum and Odenigbo came in anticipation of the three clearing COVID protocols on Saturday, so they did not travel with the team. Mayfield and Odenigbo, who tested positive on Dec. 15, are scheduled to fly to Green Bay on Saturday. The Browns are hopeful Keenum, who went on the list on Dec. 17, can join them if he tests negative.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) rolls out to pass during a Nov. 28, 2021 game.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) rolls out to pass during a Nov. 28, 2021 game.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Thursday he expected Mayfield to start against the Packers.

Landry tested positive on Dec. 14 and was among 22 players sidelined for Monday’s home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Anyone who returned a positive test on or before Dec. 14 was expected to come off the list Friday, but that did not include left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., whom the Browns said won't be activated for the game. That also applies to defensive tackle Malik McDowell, placed on the COVID list on Dec. 15.

The Browns’ positive tests continued with kicker Chase McLaughlin, defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and practice squad safety Tedric Thompson placed on the COVID lists.

Joining them was defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, so assistant defensive line coach Jeremy Garrett will handle Kiffin's duties in Green Bay.

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Kicker Chris Naggar was called up from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement for McLaughlin. Naggar, a rookie from Southern Methodist University, was signed on Sept. 2 but has never appeared in an NFL game.

McLaughlin has been in a slump, going 15 of 21 on field-goal attempts with all of his misses coming since Oct. 21. He’s converted 4 of 10 from 40-49 yards and Stefanski has repeatedly been questioned on whether the Browns were seeking a replacement for McLaughlin.

Landry has been bothered by a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee suffered in Week 2 against the Houston Texans. He was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 21, costing him four games. Starting nine games, he still leads the Browns in receiving with 38 catches for 397 yards and one touchdown.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) congratulates wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) after Landry scored a 16-yard touchdown during at Nov. 21, 2021 game.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) congratulates wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) after Landry scored a 16-yard touchdown during at Nov. 21, 2021 game.

The Browns will be without three offensive linemen, learning Thursday that center JC Tretter had tested positive. Tretter has started every game — 78 consecutive — since he signed with the Browns in March 2017. Four-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio is likely to make his second career start at left tackle in place of Wills. Right tackle Jack Conklin is out for the season after undergoing surgery for a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee.

Mayfield, who is vaccinated, was asymptomatic when he was placed on the COVID list, and that was still the case on Sunday, when he posted on his IG story that he hoped to be cleared to play against the Raiders.

“Blessed to be healthy and have had no symptoms,” Mayfield wrote. “Praying to test negative for Covid.”

That didn’t happen, as the Browns, also missing three coaches including Stefanski, fell to the Raiders behind third-string quarterback Nick Mullens. Stefanski was cleared from COVID protocols on Wednesday, acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell on Thursday.

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On Friday, the Browns also activated eight players from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements. They were Mullens, defensive ends Joe Jackson and Curtis Weaver, safeties Adrian Colbert and Jovante Moffatt, guard Hjalte Froholdt, cornerback Herb Miller and Naggar.

Receiver Lawrence Cager and tight end Miller Forristall were waived and tight end Ross Travis was released from the practice squad/COVID-19 list.

In another move, NFL Network reported the Buffalo Bills were signing former Browns punter Jamie Gillan to the practice squad as COVID-19 insurance. The Browns waived Gillan Wednesday, choosing to go with Dustin Colquitt, 39, the rest of the season.

The Browns hope to make a playoff run in the final three games, but could still win the AFC North if they lose to the Packers.

If they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 3 and the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 9, and end up in a three-way tie with the Bengals (currently 8-6) and the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at 9-8, the Browns could earn the division crown in a tiebreaker. They would need help in that scenario, starting with a Bengals’ victory over the Ravens Sunday.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns activate Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry off COVID list