Ready or not: Rookie Kizer now Browns starting quarterback
By TOM WITHERS
BEREA, Ohio (AP) DeShone Kizer will be next through the Browns' quarterback turnstile.
He doesn't want it to spin again anytime soon.
The rocket-armed rookie QB from Notre Dame was named Cleveland's starter for Saturday night's third exhibition game in Tampa Bay, and barring an unforeseen flop or injury - remember, these are the Browns - Kizer will start the Sept. 10 season opener against Pittsburgh.
After watching Kizer develop over the past month and show poise while delivering some long completions in two preseason appearances, coach Hue Jackson picked him over veterans Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler.
"I don't ever want to put something on someone too soon if they're not ready," Jackson said Wednesday. "But he's demonstrated that he's ready, so let's give him a chance to see if he can do it."
The confident 21-year-old is excited about the opportunity and Kizer intends to make the most of it. Just a week ago, he seemed to be destined for a backup role when 10-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said he expected Osweiler to win the job and take the field in Week 1. Thomas has seen rookies thrown into the mix too early, and said he hoped the Browns would be patient with Kizer.
Oh, well. Now, it appears he'll be protecting Kizer in the opener - the 19th different quarterback Thomas has played with since 2007.
Kizer feels an obligation not to let his celebrated teammate down.
"There's a lot to show Joe Thomas," said Kizer, in position to be Cleveland's 27th starting QB since 1999.
"That guy's seen quite a few quarterbacks, obviously, and my ultimate goal is for him to not see another one. And in order to do that, I've got to continue to show him the type of worker that I am and how much time I'm putting in off the field in my preparation and making sure he can go out and get the wins that he absolutely deserves."
Jackson, who went 1-15 in his first season with Cleveland, could have taken the safer route and chosen Osweiler, who made 14 starts last season for Houston. But Jackson believes Kizer makes Cleveland's offense more dynamic and gives his team the best chance to win - now.
Jackson hasn't officially named Kizer his Week 1 starter, but it would take a major flame-out for him not to get the assignment.
"In my mind, this young man is going to go play extremely well," he said. "My job is to help him do that and create the right environment for him to go and do that with the rest of the offensive football team. There is nothing in my mind that says he is not going to do well. I expect him to do well, our organization expects him to do well and his teammates expect him to do well."
Jackson said Osweiler will not play against the Buccaneers, raising suspicions the Browns may be trying to trade the 26-year-old, who has a $16 million guaranteed deal this season and was considered a trade throw-in when he was acquired in March from Houston. Jackson said he had a good conversation with Osweiler.
"No one has said to Brock, `You might not play here' or `You wouldn't be the quarterback here,'" Jackson said. "That is not what was said just so we can all be clear about that. I can't tell you what is going to happen at Pittsburgh yet because I have not said that for sure - without question this is our Day 1 starter. It is trending in that direction, but I have never said that.
"This is just where I am right now. I want to play DeShone. I think DeShone deserves this opportunity and let's see where it goes."
Osweiler entered the competition with an obvious edge because of his experience, but his inability to move the ball Monday night against the New York Giants may have doomed him.
He felt he was given "a fair shot" to win the job, and hasn't given up hope he can still get it.
"I have no regret on anything that's taken place since I've been here," he said. "I truly believe I've laid everything out there on the table. I'm very proud of what I was able to show my teammates and the coaching staff throughout OTAs going back to day one when we were just given the playbook and how I mastered that. So there's no regret on anything and I don't think there's anything else I need to do.
"They know the quarterback and the teammate that I am."
NOTES: LB Tank Carder (knee) and OL Matt McCants (ankle) were placed on injured reserve. Carder, who was competing against Joe Schobert to win the starting middle job, needs surgery to repair a torn ligament. A special teams captain last season, Carder has appeared in 77 games with Cleveland since 2012. ... DB Justin Currie (ankle) was waived with an injury designation. ... RB Isaiah Crowell (groin), rookie TE David Njoku (ankle), rookie DT Caleb Brantley (shoulder), OL Gabe Ikard (concussion), and CB Marcus Burley (facial laceration) returned to practice.
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Updated August 23, 2017