Jacoby Brissett has always been prepared to play whatever number of games the Browns need from him in 2022.
On Thursday, he found out what that number would be: 11. With Deshaun Watson set to be suspended 11 games, per an agreement by the NFL and NFLPA, the Browns now have an idea of just how long they'll need their backup QB to pilot the offense and keep the team's playoff goals within reach.
For Brissett, however, the number never mattered. It never has over the course of his seven-year career, which has featured several instances of him stepping in as a backup and doing what he can to keep offenses steady.
He did it for Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo his rookie season. He did it multiple seasons for Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. He did it at times last year with the Dolphins.
His mindset when doing so — being himself, controlling what he can control and being a good teammate — hasn't changed.
"I'm just excited for the opportunity," he said. "I don't take it lightly, obviously. Just going out there and continuing to be the man that I am, the player that I am and the teammate that I am."
Check out photos of players getting ready to face the Eagles in week two of the preseason.
Brissett, a seventh-year veteran, knows how big the challenge will be of keeping the Browns afloat through the first three months of the season, but he believes the talent around him will make that job easier, too.
The roster has no shortage of talent with a top-ranked offensive line, arguably the best run game in the league and a wide receiver room that mostly holds young, untapped potential. Defensively, the Browns appear poised for a big season with a group that remains largely unchanged from a year ago, when it finished fifth in the league in total defense.
But none of those factors guarantee success in the AFC North. The Bengals and Ravens are considered playoff contenders, and the Steelers can't be ruled out from the conversation either if QBs Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett do a serviceable job in their first year in Pittsburgh.
Brissett is set to play three of the Browns' six games against their divisional opponents — one against each team. It includes the Browns' Thursday night home game against the Steelers in Week 3 and the Halloween game against the Bengals in Week 8 on Monday Night Football.
His focus, though, is on taking things one day at a time. Week 1 against Carolina is only starting to pop into his mind as he continues to grow chemistry with the offense and learn what he can do to maximize the strengths of the group.
"I think every day we go out there, I have grown more and more comfortable," Brissett said. "I didn't play in the [first preseason] game, but just seeing how the game was called, just talking to the guys on the sideline and stuff like that, you kind of grow more confidence in what we are doing."
Brissett mentioned multiple times throughout his interview Friday that he prides himself on being a good teammate.
Based on what other Browns players have said about him so far, he's done an excellent job of bringing the locker room together. They have full faith in him to navigate through the first three months of the season and maintain the close chemistry the group has built over the offseason through several team-bonding activities.
Those activities include a trip to a historic baseball park last week in Jacksonville, a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame during minicamp and a visit to the Cleveland Cavaliers' practice facility — where Brissett won the team's 3-point contest.
"We 100 percent believe in him," Amari Cooper said. "He would not be back there if we did not. (We're) not really worried about what outsiders say. We're just going to go out there and do our thing."
Nick Chubb seconded those remarks and enjoys the demeanor Brissett brings to work every day.
"He's a funny guy," he said. "He is fun to be around. He's always so serious, but it's in a fun, facetious way. He's a great guy to be around."
To Brissett, being a good teammate and staying true to who he is matters more than meeting expectations — although that's not to say he won't work to meet them.
Every day in practice, Brissett has been doing what a good quarterback should do: talking with teammates when a play breaks down or when something can be corrected and celebrating with them when all goes right. Performance-wise, he's shown an excellent ability to take care of the ball by rarely throwing interceptions and has been able to take whatever the defense gives him.
Brissett is smart, so smart that LB Jeremiah Owusu-Kormaoah referred to him as "the shaman," and someone the team looks to for wisdom.
"He has the wisdom we're all trying to get," Owusu-Koramoah said.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski has seen Brissett spread that wisdom across the team in the months of preseason preparation.
"Jacoby, he is 29, but he has seen a lot in this game," Stefanski said. "Going back to his days in New England and his days in Indianapolis, he has seen a lot and that is the NFL for quarterbacks as starters, as backups and those type of things. I do think he is able to impart wisdom as a 'shaman' to some of those young guys."
How does that look on the field? Based on training camp practices and Brissett's career numbers, short completions will be key for the offense. He's averaged 6.4 yards per attempt over his career, but the short passes keep the ball moving and help the offense avoid costly mistakes.
Brissett has thrown 17 interceptions in 1,208 career pass attempts, leading to an efficient 1.4 career interception percentage. He has 36 career touchdowns.
That's not to say Brissett doesn't look to throw the ball long. He unleashed a few long-range throws in the last week of practices where he worked more with the first team, a couple of which were caught by Cooper.
"I think everybody saw a decision-maker, a big athlete and a person who could make all the throws," head coach Kevin Stefanski said at the beginning of training camp. "I think that was exciting. Then just being around him and being in the meeting rooms with him, I think his ability to lead and his ability to understand defenses, I have been very impressed."
Brissett believes he'll be at his best by being himself, and the Browns are ready to let him do that as they prepare him to be their offensive leader for the first 11 games.
The number, though, has never been the focus for Brissett.
It's been about staying ready for all opportunities, and he knows he has a big one ahead in Cleveland.
"I'm here to do my job, do the best I can, lead, be the same guy and be a good teammate," he said, "and then everything else will take care of itself."