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Need to Know: Hue Jackson outlines decision to start DeShone Kizer, who 'keeps passing every test'

Posted Aug 23, 2017

Jackson named the rookie Cleveland's starting QB vs. Buccaneers on Saturday

DeShone Kizer continues to impress the Browns with each passing week.

“He keeps passing every test,” Jackson said Wednesday after naming the rookie Cleveland’s starting quarterback for this weekend’s preseason game against the Buccaneers, “and there’s still another one to pass.”

Kizer, who is set to make his first preseason start Saturday night, has showcased that growth over the past month, completing 19-of-31 passes for 258 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions in wins over the Giants and Saints.

Jackson cited that dynamic as grounds for playing the former Notre Dame star, whom the Browns tabbed in the second round of the NFL Draft this past spring. Kizer, once believed to be a top-10 pick, has impressed the coaching staff with his arm talent, big frame and coachability since coming to Cleveland.

“I think this was another step in the process for DeShone,” Jackson said. “He’s showing the characteristics that I look for in our quarterback. When I looked back and looked at everything and thought through it all, it was best to give him this opportunity to walk out there again. I think he has a right to earn the opening start by the way he plays, and I think he knows that.”

Though Jackson emphasized Kizer’s move up the depth chart doesn’t guarantee him a start in the season opener against Pittsburgh, he said the 21-year-old from Toledo is “trending in the right direction with our offensive football team.”

“I thought ‘hey, let’s give him a chance to go play and see if he can show and demonstrate those characteristics to the rest of our team, the staff and the organization.’”

And this weekend in Tampa Bay, Jackson said, should offer another test.

“I mean, here we come this Saturday night against a good defensive football team in Tampa on the road, in the heat,” he said.

“There’s a lot of different elements he is going to have to deal with, so again, here is another opportunity, but he has been knocking down everything I have put before him, so here we are.”

Here’s what else you need to know from Wednesday:

— After learning he wouldn’t make a third straight start at quarterback, Brock Osweiler said he has no regrets when it comes to putting his best foot forward in Cleveland’s quarterback competition. “From the day I arrived in April,  I was and am working extremely hard as far as mastering the play books, studying the playbook, getting to know my teammates and doing everything I could off the field,” said Osweiler, who was traded to Cleveland from Houston this spring.

“I had a great summer of preparation. I felt like I had a great training camp. I have absolutely no regrets towards anything I have done, and I’ve definitely left it all out there on the table.”

Jackson echoed a similar sentiment, saying he had a productive conversation with Osweiler — who went 12-of-22 for 61 yards and an interception through two games — Wednesday morning. “He handled it, but like any quarterback or any player in the National Football League, you are disappointed when you don’t get that assignment,” he said. “There are only 32 of these, so I get that. That is what comes with it sometimes, but that’s OK. We’ll get through that as well.”

— Jackson added Osweiler won’t play against the Buccaneers on Saturday in an effort to give reps to Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. “I want to play these young guys. I have told him that, that I want to give these young guys a shot and let them play,” he said. “I want them to play, and that has been explained to him.”

— To be certain, Jackson also stressed “no one has said to Brock that ‘Brock, you might not play here’ or ‘You wouldn’t be the quarterback here.’”

“That’s not what was said just so we can all be clear about that. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen at Pittsburgh yet because I have not said that for sure, without question this is our Day 1 starter,” he continued. “It’s trending in that direction (of playing Kizer), but I’ve never said that. Let’s see where we get to after this week and see where we are and go from there, but I think Brock is a member of our football team, will be a member of our football team and has done some good things in our building and on our practice field and in the game.”

— The Browns released Desmond Bryant late Tuesday, marking the end of the veteran defensive lineman’s four-year tenure in Cleveland.  Jackson said Bryant, who missed the 2016 season with a torn pectoral muscle, is healthy and tried “extremely hard” throughout training camp. “You guys know I have a relationship with Des that goes all the way back to Oakland,” said Jackson, who coached Bryant in 2011, “and we wish him well. It is just that this is where we were. This is the decision that we made to move forward, and go in a different direction. Those things happen.” Bryant totaled 14.5 sacks in 41 starts over the past four seasons.

— After a move to inside linebacker and a healthier diet, second-year standout Joe Schobert has shined throughout training camp, recording six tackles, a sack and pass breakup in Monday’s win over the Giants. Jackson said Schobert — who lost roughly 15 pounds this offseason — is an “extremely bright” player who can handle the responsibilities that come with playing middle linebacker. “That is the quarterback of our defense, so he has a lot of input and say from snap to snap what our defense does,” he said.

“He kind of controls that, and that is a perfect fit for him. He obviously still has the ability to rush the quarterback from the edges, but he can play inside. He has demonstrated that in these two preseason games, all throughout training camp, and he has done an outstanding job.”

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