John Johnson: Baker Mayfield looks confident, healthy, and like he’s whipping the ball

Now that Week One is here, there will only be more talk about Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield facing his old team to begin the 2022 season.

Browns safety John Johnson was Mayfield’s teammate in 2021 and said on Monday that the quarterback appears to have regained some of the confidence he may have lost last year.

“I think he’s confident,” Johnson said, via Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. “That was probably a big thing that happened last year, maybe the confidence wavered a little bit. But looks confident, looks healthy, looks like he’s whipping the ball, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

While the Browns obviously want to win the game to start the season 1-0, Johnson noted there aren’t really any lingering hard feelings toward Mayfield in the locker room, noting the team has had months to get rid of those.

“We’ve been out here, we had OTAs without him and stuff like that,” Johnson said. “So I think now we’re at a point where we’re locked in, we’re laser-focused on beating Carolina.

“I’ve said this so many times — it’s a business. I feel like I understand that. Maybe young guys don’t really understand the dynamic yet, but guys come and go. You’ll forever be judged when you go out there on the field. So it’s a business and we had to make some decisions.”

Moreover, Johnson said the Browns didn’t blame Mayfield for a drop-off in performance that had Cleveland finish 27th in passing last season.

“We never blame anyone, let alone one person. It’s a collective effort,” Johnson said. “We could have been better on special teams, we could have been better on defense, could have been better on offense as a whole.”

The Browns finished 8-9 last year after going 11-5 and winning a playoff game in 2020. Carolina and Cleveland will continue a week of trying not to provide bulletin-board material to the other team before settling things between the lines on Sunday.