In his NFL preseason debut Thursday night, the former Oklahoman seemed to leave his nerves in the locker room.
As the lights lit the MetLife Stadium, the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns put their rookies on display. Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley, the top two picks in April’s NFL draft, stepped out to impress.
While the opening preseason games for most teams carry little weight, Mayfield wasted no time showing off his ability to make big plays. Taking over late in the first quarter for Browns’ starter Tyrod Taylor, the NFL rookie pulled off a 14-play, 72-yard scoring drive with a touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku.
In a training camp press conference earlier in the week, Mayfield told reporters he was excited to play again and ready to take every opportunity.
Refusing to leave his calm composure in Oklahoma, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner hit fellow rookie Antonio Callaway in the fourth quarter for a 54-yard touchdown pass. Ending the game with 212 yards and two scores, the quarterback walked out of the stadium as the Browns’ leading rusher with three carries and 13 yards.
Here’s that throw on the slant. Defender draped all over the WR. Perfect ball placement. Baker even hesitates to let the flat defender clear out. Really nice. pic.twitter.com/PNJ9DAf2ly— TJ Eckert (@TJEckertKTUL) August 10, 2018
Media, fans, and fellow players took to Twitter to share their amazement at the quarterback’s first NFL touchdown.
“After that TD pass I saw an Ohio State fan cry in his beer and yell – I love Baker Mayfield”
Baker Mayfield in one series looked better than Manziel did in his entire lousy Browns career.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) August 10, 2018
Mayfield’s performance has the potential to bring other top offensive performers to Cleveland after the team acquired Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins in the offseason.
“Starting my visits next week,” Dez Bryant tweeted. “I’m coming to the Land to see you Mr. Dorsey.”
The All-Star’s name received plenty of attention throughout training camp as the former Dallas Cowboys player reportedly turned down a deal from the Baltimore Ravens. Browns fans are anxiously awaiting Byant’s decision on his new team.
Among other NFL rookie debuts, Saquon Barkley began his career with the New York Giants with a dynamic run during the first offensive play of the game. Wasting no time, the running back took an inside handoff from Manning, cut through traffic, past Browns’ defenders for a 39-yard gain.
Giants fans went wild with the rookie’s debut, but Barkley said he should have scored.
“I mean, you know me,” Barkley said after the game. “That’s how I am. Every time I touch the ball, I think I should’ve scored. That’s my mindset. But it’s the NFL.”
Although the Giants ended with a 20-10 loss against the Browns, fans are looking forward to watching the high-stakes rookies in action throughout the season.