BEREA — When Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield plays, he talks.

Whether he's motivating teammates or messing with opponents, Mayfield will be more vocal now that he's starting.

Tight end David Njoku learned firsthand during the Browns' 21-17 comeback victory over the New York Jets on "Thursday Night Football."

"It just comes to him naturally, even the smack talking," Njoku said Monday after coach Hue Jackson named Mayfield the starter. "I heard him talk smack in person the first time Thursday night. I did a double take, and I was like, 'OK.' "

Njoku wouldn't specify what Mayfield uttered — "some funny stuff," Njoku said — but he revealed Jets defensive linemen were the targets of the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft.

"He was talking to the big boys," Njoku said. "So he has heart. He's not afraid, and that's something we need. It's very important."

Mayfield is convinced it'll also be vital for him to take charge as a leader after supplanting Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The University of Oklahoma graduate had a slightly different mindset when the Browns (1-1-1) began their practice week Monday in preparation for Sunday's road game against the Oakland Raiders (0-3).

"I’m going to carry my same routine. So far, that’s working for me. I’ve got guys around me that I can lean on for support," Mayfield said. "But now the only thing different would be the vocal standpoint of leadership. We still have Tyrod. He’s still one of our captains, one of our best leaders. There’s no doubt about that. But now I just need to be more vocal. It comes with the position."

Mayfield, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, admitted remaining relatively quiet as Taylor's backup in the first 2½ games of the season proved to be challenging.

"It’s harder to pull back when it’s in my nature," Mayfield said. "That’s just who I am to be vocal, to express my feelings, my emotions, to lead with passion.

"I’m not going to be fake. I’m not going to do a rah-rah speech or just talk to talk. There’s always a purpose, and that’s, I think, to get the most out of your guys when you’re doing that."

Mayfield, 23, has never struggled to inspire teammates.

"Being a quarterback in the NFL, you've got to lead people that could be 10, 15 years older than you, and that comes with it," Njoku said. "But I think he's going to do just fine. I think he has his head on right, and he'll be just fine."

Of course, results speak volumes, and Mayfield produced them in his NFL regular-season debut. He entered Thursday's game with 1:42 left in the second quarter after Taylor suffered a concussion and the Browns fell behind 14-0.

He went 17-of-23 passing (73.9 percent) for 201 yards with a rating of 100.1 and took one sack. He threw one pass away and three others were dropped, giving him an adjusted completion percentage of 90.1, the third-best, single-game rate of any quarterback this season, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

"I saw the ball being spread around," coach Hue Jackson said. "I saw the ball going to the right person with zip, momentum and with assurance. That's what I saw. I saw the offense start to make more plays up and down the field.

"He played well, but he has to continue to get better. He has to continue to work. This young man is not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination, but there's a talented young man there who likes to play, who has a fire and who has an intensity and a competitiveness that you want."

The Jets were the first NFL team to find out.

"The sky is the limit for him," Njoku said of Mayfield. "He came out of nowhere ready to play. 'Thursday Night Football' is full of distractions, and he handled it great. So the sky really is the limit."

 

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.