No. 1 picks Murray, Mayfield meet as Cards host Browns

It'll be a Sooner reunion on Sunday when the Cleveland Browns visit the Arizona Cardinals.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray -- former Oklahoma teammates, fellow Heisman Trophy winners and back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks -- will face each other on an NFL field for the first time.

While each is considered the potential face of the franchise, each remains a work in progress.

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The Browns (6-7) have turned their season by winning four of the past five games to get within the longest of shots at an AFC wild-card berth. Rookie Murray and the Cardinals (3-9-1) have lost six in a row.

Mayfield completed 11 of 24 passes for 192 yards and two interceptions in a 27-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last week. He created controversy afterward by criticizing the team's medical staff for its handling of the groin injury that has slowed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this season before apologizing to the training staff Monday.

Meanwhile, Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens suggested multiple reports that Beckham wants out are much ado about nothing.

"I'm sorry, I don't think there is any 'gotcha' moment here," Kitchens said. "I can only tell you what I think and what I've seen from Odell, and what I've seen from Odell is nothing like the reports indicate."

Mayfield, after a strong surge in the second half of 2018, has struggled to find his rhythm. He has passed for 3,109 yards this year, but he is the only full-time starter in the league with more interceptions (16) than touchdown passes (15). His completion percentage (.592) is the lowest among full-time starters, as is his passer rating (77.6).

"He continues to identify pressures, and I think his eyes are getting better," Kitchens said. "He is not a finished product. He is seeing more coverages this year.

"Playing quarterback is like taking 1,000 pictures all at once, and you just have to build your repertoire of the pictures that you see when a ball is snapped. What are the safeties doing? What is the linebacker doing? What are they more likely to do in this instance?"

Murray has set a Cardinals' rookie record with 3,060 passing yards, and he has 16 TD passes against nine interceptions while also rushing for a team-high 448 yards and four touchdowns. He had his first three-interception game in a 23-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but coach Kliff Kingsbury said the quarterback's recent struggles are those of a competitor.

"As these losses have stacked up, maybe trying to do a little too much," Kingsbury said. "Trying to win it by himself. He has to get back in the rhythm, like he was prior to the bye week, where you are just doing your job. We just have to find that happy medium again."

Murray was sacked twice, once after fumbling, and threw an incomplete pass and a fourth-down interception on the Cardinals' final drive against Pittsburgh, when they took over at their own 25-yard line with 1:42 left and no timeouts remaining.

"I'm kind of living in the now, so it's tough," Murray said. "I always feel good about where we are going, very optimistic about where we are going. It obviously sucks right now. But it is what it is, and you've got to move forward."

The Browns turned the Cincinnati game over to running back Nick Chubb, who rushed for 99 of his 106 yards in the second half. Chubb leads the NFL with 1,281 rushing yards.

Cleveland would seem to have several ways to attack a Cardinals defense that ranks last in the league in yards allowed per game (414.7), passing yards allowed per game (294.2) and is 30th in points allowed per game (28.8).

Cardinals defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (toe) was placed on the injured reserve list this week after starting the previous 13 games. Cleveland defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) and wide receivers Beckham (groin) and Jarvis Landry (hip) were listed as questionable as of Wednesday, but both Beckham and Landry were expected to play.

--Field Level Media

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