New Browns backup quarterback Case Keenum still feels like he can play 'at a high level'

Case Keenum knows the drill. 

After starting games for six different franchises during the first eight years of his career, Keenum signed a three-year deal with the Browns to be a backup to quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is entering a pivotal year of his career following a disappointing 2019 campaign. But while his role has changed, Keenum's mindset has remained the same

"I'm going to be ready to play," Keenum recently told Nate Ulrich of the Beacon Journal. "That's my job. I feel like I can play at a high level. I feel like I've played at a high level over the last few years. It may not have shown in some of the wins and losses, but this league is tough. There's a constant curve and kind of a gradual ebbs and flows of it, but I feel like my trend has gone up in the way I have handled games.

"I say all that to say if Baker's shoelace comes untied and he needs to maybe go get a drink of Gatorade at the water station, I'm going to be ready to go. If I need to take a few snaps, I'm going to handle myself well, and I know that I can."

Keenum's recent statistics support his line of thinking. Last season, his only season with the Redskins, Keenum completed 64.8% of his passes (the second highest total of his career) with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. The issue was the Redskins' 1-7 record with him as their starter, which prompted the team to bench Keenum in favor of rookie Dwayne Haskins. The results weren't much different, with the Redskins going just 2-5 with Haskins under center. 

While he is only three years removed from helping lead the Vikings to within a game of the Super Bowl, Keenum knew that it would be tough to find a starting opportunity. The market for veteran quarterbacks isn't very good; just ask Jameis Winston, who may also have to accept a backup position after leading the NFL in passing last season. That's why Keenum is happy to be in Cleveland, where he is reunited with Browns first year head coach Kevin Stefanski, his quarterbacks coach in Minnesota. 

"He was very detailed, very organized and really, really prepared," Keenum said of the 37-year-old, Stefanski, the NFL's third youngest head coach behind Rams' head coach Sean McVay and Bengals' head coach Zac Taylor. "I had to go into the meeting prepared because he was prepared. He was going to expect that from me. He was going to demand that from me. I was prepared as well as I've ever been prepared for any game that entire season. Every game that year was a huge credit to him and the job he did in our quarterback room."

Keenum is also excited to work with Mayfield, who sent a congratulatory text message to Keenum shortly after he signed with the Browns. Keenum said that he is looking forward to working with Mayfield, who is preparing to play in his third offensive system in as many years. Along with having a new coach, Mayfield has a new offensive coordinator in Alex Van Pelt, who spent four seasons as Aaron Rodgers' QB coach in Green Bay before filling that same role in Cincinnati over the past two years. 

"I've been in about eight or nine offenses in eight or nine years," Keenum said. "I understand. I know how that goes. I'm excited to help him navigate that and give my two cents wherever it might be needed.

"Trying to see the game through Baker's eyes, see the game through coach Stefanski's eyes and coach (Alex) Van Pelt's, those are my goals as well as bringing to the table what I've done in the past."

While he clearly hasn't lost any faith in his ability, Keenum has made it clear that there is no QB controversy in Cleveland. It's Mayfield's show, and Keenum will do his part to help him lead the Browns to their first playoff berth since 2002. But, in the event that his number is called, Keenum will be ready to show everyone what he can do. 

"I'm excited to know my role and to know there is no uncertainty in the quarterback room," he said. "That's a place where we are solidified. We're one voice."

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