New era begins: Cleveland Browns name DeShone Kizer starting quarterback

By The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 23, 2017 at 10:41 AM
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Three weeks into his first NFL preseason, DeShone Kizer emerged as the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.

The rookie second-round pick out of Notre Dame earned a chance to solidify his spot atop the pecking order of passers for the Browns with a start in Cleveland's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.

"This morning, I informed our quarterbacks that DeShone will be our starter for the third preseason game against Tampa," head coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday. "He has made a lot of progress by investing the time necessary to learn our offense, working hard to improve on his fundamentals while also effectively moving the offense in preseason games. Development is so important for a young quarterback, this is the next step he needs to take and he deserves this opportunity. We are very excited about seeing DeShone in the role of starter for this week, as he is certainly positioning himself well to earn the starting job heading into the regular season."

Cody Kessler entered training camp as the presumed starter. A rookie in 2016, Kessler entered the lineup after injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. Kessler is 12 of 17 in two preseason games but averaging less than 6.0 yards per completion. Brock Osweiler, acquired in a trade from the Houston Texans, is completing 54.5 percent of his passes with one interception and Kevin Hogan has only one pass attempt.

"Much like DeShone, Brock, Cody and Kevin have worked extremely hard throughout training camp and have helped create a very supportive environment in our quarterback room. They've pushed each other, worked well together and we expect that to continue," Jackson said.

Kizer leads the Browns in rushing -- 47 yards on eight carries -- and has a 98.6 passer rating in the first two preseason games. A late TD pass helped the Browns win the preseason opener and he scored the only touchdown in Cleveland's win last week.

Kizer entered the 2017 NFL Draft even as Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly publicly pushed for him to return to South Bend, Ind., to further his development.

It was very early in camp when Jackson said Kizer was well ahead of where the Browns thought he would be, a possible explanation for Wednesday's decision, which counters the plan laid out by team president Sashi Brown on draft day.

"He's understanding the offense. I could take you back to his days at OTAs -- he struggled calling the plays," Jackson said in July. "The words were a lot simpler. The language was a different. I did not see as much of that today. That is improvement. Obviously, he made some good throws and did not turn the ball over. Those things are good."

The Browns took Kizer 52nd overall after passing on quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the first round and selecting three other players -- defensive end Myles Garrett (1), safety Jabrill Peppers (25) and tight end David Njoku (29) -- in Round 1. Jackson began helping Kizer with his footwork and delivery before the draft.

Kessler started eight games last season for the Browns, passing for 1,380 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions as a rookie.

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