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Smaller strides lead to big strides for DeShone Kizer, Brock Osweiler

Posted Aug 13, 2017

QB coach David Lee preaching fundamentals to his group

When it’s time for warm-ups, a football and a cinder block await DeShone Kizer.

The pieces of equipment go hand in hand. Really, though, it’s hand to foot, as the cinder block serves as the ultimate deterrent to Kizer’s bad habit of elongated strides.

The daily drill has already paid dividends in quarterbacks coach David Lee’s eyes. He cited Kizer’s shortened strides as one of the rookie’s biggest improvements since the start of OTAs.

“When your stride is out there and long, your body can’t catch up to your lower body,” Lee said before Sunday’s practice. “That ball is going to come out closer to your front foot. You would like for it to be in a straight line. He is way out. He is not anymore. He has cut a lot of his stride length down, which should increase his accuracy. It should decrease high balls sailing over people’s heads.”

Kizer didn’t have too many passes sail on him Thursday in his preseason debut. The rookie completed 11-of-18 passes for 181 yards, more than half of which coming on two deep passes. He hit Richard Mullaney on a 52-yard pass that set up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and sent Cleveland to a victory with his 45-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payton with less than 2 minutes to play.

It was a step in the right direction for Kizer after struggling a bit with his accuracy in the previous week’s Orange & Brown Scrimmage. That kind of improvement is encouraging to Lee, a 42-year coaching veteran, but not yet enough to put an end to Cleveland’s ongoing quarterback competition.

“He is a lot better now than he was in the spring, but he is still not there, guys,” Lee said. “He knows it. There is so doggone much. Right when he has good practices and things happen in a game that is why this one on Monday night is so good for him. That is what we need. Put him in the real lights on a national television game, and see if he can carry these fundamentals that we are harping on him over and over and over into the game.

“He is trying and he is doing better. Has he got it mastered? Not yet. We have to know that he can do all of it before we put him out there full time. He is not ready for that yet.”

Long strides aren’t just a problem for a rookie such as Kizer. Lee said he worked with former Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo for years on his strides before he developed the necessary consistency.

Veteran Brock Osweiler, the current first-team quarterback, deals with a similar issue, Lee said, and it got the best of him Thursday.

Osweiler was 6-of-14 for 42 yards against the Saints. The throws he missed tended to sail high and above his intended targets. Two Osweiler throws -- one to Kenny Britt in the corner of the end zone and another to tight end Seth DeValve -- would have been good for touchdowns if there was just a little less juice on the ball.

“Does it happen occasionally? It happens to everybody, but that is what you fight fundamentally hard with DeShone on and Brock, also,” Lee said. “They both have the same disease so we are fighting to shorten those strides.”

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