BEREA, Ohio -- The winless Cleveland Browns are getting ready for their eighth game and will likely play it with their sixth quarterback of the season.
Cody Kessler started against the Cincinnati Bengals but was knocked out with a concussion in the 31-17 loss. If Kessler is not cleared of the concussion protocol before the Browns host the New York Jets on Sunday, the start could go to Kevin Hogan.
"(It's a) tough sport," Browns head coach Hue Jackson said of Kessler's injury. "He's trying to make plays and battling as hard as he can, and these hits -- these quarterbacks only have so many of these hits in their body, you know? Pretty soon, guys don't get up all the time, and that's what's been happening. It's unfortunate. It's just been happening way too much, so on we go."
Hogan was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was cut on Sept. 3 and signed to the Browns practice squad two days later, as though executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown had a premonition of what was going to happen.
Robert Griffin III suffered a broken bone in his left shoulder in the opener. Josh McCown's left collarbone was broken in the second game. Charlie Whitehurst was signed, suffered a knee injury, and was waived. Now Kessler is sidelined. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor also has taken snaps at quarterback, but he is not a long-term answer and is battling a hamstring injury.
Tuesday is normally an off-day for players, but Hogan will be at Browns headquarters, cramming for the Jets. There is a chance McCown might be cleared, but the Browns can't count on that. McCown practiced the last two weeks but has not been cleared to play in games.
"I'm confident in myself and my preparation," Hogan said. "I feel good about my process and putting in the work, studying, watching film, getting reps during and after practice. Obviously, I hope that Cody makes a speedy recovery -- he's our quarterback and we trust him. But I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I'm ready."
Hogan completed 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards against the Bengals on Sunday. He threw two interceptions and had a 26.4 passer rating.
--Hogan, subbing at quarterback, ran 28 yards for a touchdown in the 31-17 loss to the Bengals. It is the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in Browns history.
"It's something that I've always trusted and something I did a little bit at Stanford," Hogan said. "If there was nothing there downfield, then I felt comfortable with my legs that I could get a first down or a big gain. It was nice during the week to rep some of those run plays, and it happened to pay off during the game."
Hogan rushed for a total of 104 yards.
REPORT CARD VS. BENGALS
PASSING OPFFENSE: D --The poor pass protection was responsible for injuries to two Browns quarterbacks this year -- Josh McCown (collarbone) and now Cody Kessler (concussion). Robert Griffin III (shoulder) and Charlie Whitehurst (knee) were injured running on their own. Kevin Hogan was not ready when he stepped in for Kessler and threw two interceptions.
RUSH OFFENSE: B -- Considering the Browns had a minimal passing offense they did well to rush for 180 yards. Hogan gained 104 yards on seven carries. He had wide open running lanes and took advantage of them. He had success behind a makeshift offensive line; starting center Cameron Erving left the game with an illness.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- The grade would be lower but the Browns did sack Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton three times. The Browns played without starting cornerback Joe Haden and Dalton made them pay. Inexcusably, the Browns allowed Dalton to complete a 48-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green for a touchdown on the final play of the first half despite having four defenders around the ball in the end zone.
RUN DEFENSE: F -- The Browns gave up 271 yards on the ground. They missed tackles when they got close to the Bengal runners, but for most of the day they were out of position. Jeremy Hill was untouched on a 74-yard touchdown run. Injuries are an excuse for what went wrong in the secondary, but the front seven is relatively healthy. The exception is linebacker Nate Orchard, who is on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Browns had no glaring errors on special teams, but they did nothing special, either. The Browns have no threat in their return game, and that hurts the offense. Tracy Howard returned one kick 18 yards. Duke Johnson returned one punt 3 yards.
COACHING: D -- Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has to take some responsibility for his players being out of position when the Bengals ran the ball. Head coach Hue Jackson keeps saying he is responsible for the mistakes the Browns keep making, but in the seventh game of the season the Browns looked no better than they did in the opener.