BEREA, Ohio -- Another session of OTAs has begun at the Browns training complex in the Cleveland suburb of Berea, and that means another quarterback battle is underway.
Cody Kessler, by virtue of his eight starts as a rookie last year, is working with the first team. It doesn't matter that he lost all eight games; his experience puts him ahead of trade acquisition Brock Osweiler and rookie DeShone Kizer. Kevin Hogan is the fourth quarterback.
Of course, much could change between now and the start of training camp in late July. Even that is a long way from the start of the regular season in a home game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I think Cody is stronger and the ball has more zip on it," coach Hue Jackson said after practice Wednesday. "He's worked extremely hard. What he's working at now is maintaining it and being able to do it week in and week out and day in and day out. That's his challenge, and we'll keep staying after it with him."
Osweiler is the X-factor in this quarterback derby. The Browns sent the Houston Texans a 2017 fourth-round draft pick. In exchange the Texans shipped Osweiler, a 2017 sixth-round pick and 2018 second-round pick. The Texans made the move to dump Osweiler's $16 million 2017 salary and because, for whatever reason, he failed in his only year in Houston despite his 8-6 record as a starter.
Osweiler would not discuss reports he was the cause of friction in his brief time with Houston, but he is eager for a new beginning with the Browns.
Soon after the trade, reports surfaced saying the Browns were trying hard to trade Osweiler because all they really wanted in the deal was the second-round pick next year and that they were willing to spend $16 million to get it. Now, though, it appears Osweiler will get a legitimate chance to win the starting job. He made one of the best plays of the Wednesday practice when he hit wide receiver Core Coleman on a deep route down the left side of the field.
"The thing that I love that has taken place so far," Osweiler said, "is coach Lee (quarterbacks coach David Lee) and coach Jackson really, really coach fundamentals: feet, delivery, where your eyes are on a play, progressions and I believe fundamentals are how you play great football. So if your fundamentals are out of whack, you're going to be out of whack.
"Just to be surrounded by coach Lee, pushed by him every day, pushed by coach Jackson, it's going to make me a better player. I'm getting back to the things that I think make great quarterback play and I really appreciate them being on me and coaching me hard."
Jackson said he has seen none of the orneriness that supposedly ruined Osweiler with the Texans.
"I can't speak to anything that's gone on in Houston," Jackson said. "I just know that here he's been great. He's done everything we've asked him to do."
Kizer understands his role as the third quarterback -- for now. At Notre Dame the play came in from the sideline via hand signals. Now he has to take in the play through the radio helmet and relay it in the huddle. It's just one of the adjustments he's making in the jump from Notre Dame.
"I have to find out probably more about him than I do any of the guys," Jackson said. "He's not going to get too far away from me, I know that. He's done a good job. He just has to keep getting better.
"He's improved from day to day. Hopefully, the guy is going to have a little downtime. The quarterbacks understand there is still so much more work they have to do away from here to play this position at a high level. That's the challenge for all of our guys."