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No letup in sight as DeShone Kizer prepares for stout Ravens defense

Posted Sep 13, 2017

Rookie QB knows it won’t get any easier against Baltimore

DeShone Kizer was in bed by 9 p.m. on Tuesday. It was a long, productive day of work on his day off and, in his mind, necessary as he dives head first into a week of preparation for one of the NFL’s perennially stout defenses.

“I’m absolutely a crack of dawn guy,” Kizer said. “I do my best work in the morning so I try to get in around 5 every morning to try to get ahead on things to make sure that I can go accurately help my team out.”

Kizer will need to be accurate and so much more against a Ravens defense that blanked the Bengals in last week’s season opener and, essentially, wreaked havoc from start to finish by forcing five turnovers and limiting Cincinnati to 221 yards of offense.

After amassing 290 against a similarly difficult Pittsburgh defense, Kizer knows the Week 2 jump will be necessary if he hopes to lead the Browns to their first win of the season.

“That is as tough of a defense as we are going to see. They play almost every coverage very similar to Baltimore,” Kizer said. “It is a great one-two punch in the sense that you get to play two AFC North teams. Both schematically play three-down, four-down have a great front seven up front and you are going to see every coverage they have.”

By forcing five turnovers, Baltimore was able to monopolize the clock and, in turn, wear down Cincinnati’s defense with a ground-and-pound approach. Outside of a costly third-quarter interception, Kizer avoided the deluge of turnovers that can afflict rookie quarterbacks at times as they grow and develop over the course of their first season.

The Ravens haven’t lost at home to a rookie quarterback since John Harbaugh took over in 2008.

“They tip a lot of balls,” Kizer said. “They do a great job when they are not right next to the quarterback of getting their hands up so we have to get those hands down and eliminate turnovers. Obviously, they played one heck of a game against Cincinnati doing their best to take the ball away from them. It is our job to make sure that we keep the ball in our hands and out of harm’s way.”

It wasn’t just turnovers, though, as Baltimore dropped veteran Andy Dalton five times for sacks. Fifteen-year veteran Terrell Suggs had two of them.

Kizer, of course, is coming off a performance in which he took seven sacks. The rookie put the blame on himself for all seven and stressed Wednesday “the next step in the process for me” is to “embrace the check-down,” as Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston told him during the preseason.

“It is just a mentality,” Kizer said. “My mindset when I have the ability to run the ball is to always try to extend the play as much as I can. Now, as I step into this week, understanding that yeah, you can extend the play and are going to have to use your legs to make plays, but when the check-down is there and you get a running back out, that is where the ball needs to be.”

Kizer has leaned on coach Hue Jackson from the moment he arrived in Berea, and that certainly won’t change this week. The rookie quarterback knows there are few in the building who know more about Cleveland’s AFC North foes than Jackson, who was a quarterbacks coach for the Ravens during Joe Flacco’s rookie season.

He’s expecting the unexpected while using every resource at his disposal to be ready when he arrives in Baltimore.

“He has seen a little bit of everything,” Kizer said. “He is able to recall from things way back in the past to prepare me for those throughout practice. It is my job now to do whatever I can to prepare as much as I can for Baltimore and make sure that if there is something that is new thrown at me that at least I can get two or three looks at it from a previous year.”

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