QB DeShone Kizer:
On heading into his first NFL start:
"Excited. It has been a long four months. I haven't played competitive football with a game on the line and a record on the line in a long time. I'm looking forward to going out there and executing this gameplan that we have been putting together the last couple of weeks."
On the Steelers defense:
"Talented. They have studs all over the place from D line to DBs to great linebackers. It is definitely going to be a challenge for us, but I think, once again, this gameplan that we have had a couple of weeks to prepare for, if we can go out and execute it, we will definitely find some success."
On how he expects a regular season game to differ from the preseason games thus far:
"There are going to be more people in the stands and more star guys out on the field. Obviously, anytime anyone transitions from preseason to regular season, they are going to up their game, and it is up to me to do the same to try to go out and execute everything that (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) has been putting together."
On if he feels he has adjusted to the speed of the NFL during preseason or if he will have to adjust this week:
"Obviously, every team is different and every team is going to have different guys at every position, but I think I got a little bit of a taste of it playing against Tampa Bay with some of their starters out there, but everything goes to a whole another level. My preparation has to go to another level and my mentality has to go to another level, but hopefully, I can just match that and do what I have been doing all preseason and try to find some success."
On if it is difficult to resist 'letting it rip' downfield with his arm strength when a check-down might be the smarter play:
"Why resist (laughter)? If the play is there, we are going to let it rip. Yeah, there is definitely going to be an opportunity to move the ball in check-downs. That is any team out there. You have to understand where your outlet is at all times. Take the big plays when they are given to you, but when they are not given to you, understand that 5-6 yards is a great play, especially with the running backs that we have that can catch the ball and make plays."
On Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston giving him advice and if he took Winston's advice to heart:
"I did. I did, and it was funny that his message after that game was very accurate. That game was really the last one where Coach realized that I'm trying to push the ball down the field a lot. That last little hint that was going to allow me to go into the next time I'm out there, understanding that once again, a check-down is a great play when you have running backs who can catch the ball as easily as I do."
On if he tries to emulate Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger due to their similar characteristics:
"Absolutely, Ben grew up around me. He is only about 40 minutes away from me. His reputation in my city is something that is well respected. Yes, I did grow up watching him. There are quite a few Pittsburgh fans in the Toledo area who live and die by his games and his play. His grit and what he does out on the field is exactly what you have to have to be successful in the AFC North. That is why he has been consistently successful. Hopefully, I will be able to pull from that and go out there, compete against him and do my best to try to take over that reputation that he has had in this city."
On comfort being patient and handing the ball off repeatedly to beat an opponent:
"I threw the ball eight times per game my junior year of high school so I understand handing the ball off. Whatever it takes. At this level, there is a lot that goes into every play. Whether it be a simple inside-zone handoff, there are going to be three or four checks I'm going to have to make at the line. As long as I am executing my job, which obviously has to do with the run game, as well, it is not going to feel as if I am being patient. I'm out there still doing my job, making sure the ball is in our playmakers' hands."
On challenges establishing a rapport with three new WRs who recently joined the team:
"This is new for me. This league is different than anything I have ever been a part of in the sense that there are going to be guys that are in and out of this locker room. That is the reality of the fact, but I think it is up to me to focus on doing my job and how I'm going to execute our gameplan and then allow the chemistry and the development that you need with receivers to come along. Coach Jackson is obviously a king at that. He really understands how to make sure that guys are in the right positions to make plays. As long as those guys continue to work and we continue to create some chemistry when we are out here preparing, then hopefully, we will be able to go out there and make some big plays in games."
On if it is helpful knowing he had success with WR Corey Coleman in the preseason:
"There are four of them. You have Corey out there. You have (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.). You have (WR) Kenny (Britt). You have (WR) Ricardo (Louis). Those are all guys that I have been throwing the ball to since the day I stepped into this building. The chemistry is going to be there. Now, it is about placing these new guys into the right positions that they have been in in the past and where they have experienced success for our offense now."
On what the Browns-Steelers rivalry means to him, being an Ohio native:"I definitely have a lot of respect for this game. This rivalry within our division and our conference is one that really shows you what Northern Midwest football is. It is hard nose. It is tough. The fan bases are the same way. The cities are the same way. We all kind of grew up the same way in the sense that it is blue collar. It is as blue collar as it gets so now to be a part of this and to obviously represent Cleveland and this rivalry, I am looking forward to going out there and representing the city and everything that comes along with this."
On who he considered to be Notre Dame's biggest rival when he was in school:
"It bounced back and forth between SC (Southern California) and Stanford. Those two California teams obviously gave us a big run."
On growing up 40 minutes away from Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's hometown and now preparing to play against him in his NFL debut:
"It is surreal. There is a lot of that that has happened. I step out there in all of the preseason games that I play, and I look at guys that I have been watching on TV since I have been young. Big Ben has been playing in this league since I have been in grade school so that is just a really weird concept. At the same time, his 11 on offense are going against my 11, and our 11 on offense are going against his defense. He is going to become an enemy as soon as that ball gets snapped and we flip the coin. I look forward to being out there. There are going to be a lot of those games where we step out there and I am going against guys that I have been looking up to, but it is my job just to take some of the things that they have been doing to create their success in the league and try to create my own."
On what makes Roethlisberger instinctive:
"His grit. He is a guy who doesn't go down easily. He is a guy who obviously prepares like the best of them and then within his confidence. Once again, you have to be a guy who is weatherproof, a guy who is as tough as it gets. That is something that I am going to have to be able to do here in Cleveland being so close to Pittsburgh and the way they do some things."
On how Jackson has challenged him in preparing for Sunday's opener and his main messages:
"It is creating a process and sticking to it. The success that I have had in the preseason was because of the things that he has taught me – the way that you go about film study, the way that you go about how you practice and walkthroughs and things like that. He is challenging me to take that to another level to make sure that this truly becomes who I am week to week rather than having one week of great preparation and then slacking off another. He has been challenging me to continue to stay in the playbook, stay in the gameplan and continue to watch as much film as I possibly can."
On throwing against Steelers DB Joe Haden after doing so throughout the offseason and training camp:
"You have to take what the defense gives you. In this league, there are going to be a lot of great corners you play against. Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Joe, and he took me in with open arms when I got here in Cleveland and showed me the reigns around here, but now it is about going out there and making sure that when the plays are needed. We are going to go after them and try to make them."
On his first start in high school and college:
"First start in high school, played against Detroit Crockett my sophomore year. It came down to the last play and didn't make it. First time stepping out in college, it came down to the last play and did make it. I have had a lot of experience of being thrown into the fire and going out there and being asked to execute and represent all the older guys on the team and so forth and so on. Now, this is an opportunity here where I know I am going to have to step up and put ourselves in a position to win in the fourth quarter."
On how much time he has spent thinking about what his emotions will be like on Sunday:
"Not much. There is so much in between now and then. There is a lot that we have to do game plan-wise to make sure that we are executing and doing things to the best of our ability. Right now, my focus has been on simply making sure that everyone around me is in a position to be successful on Sunday. We will think about those emotions and preparing for that maybe Saturday before the game."
On if he expects his emotions to be significant on Sunday:
"Absolutely. This is a dream come true. This is my first ever start and my first ever regular season game so yeah, when that time comes, it is going to be fun, but as soon as that coin flips and we are out there with the ball in our hands, I am sure it is just going to go back to the job that it is."
On if he will be nervous on Sunday:
"I don't necessarily experience nerves, I don't think. I get realty excited, but after I am out there and we are locked in and doing the things that we have been doing, the preparation typically takes over, the nerves go away and it is all about just trying to execute your job."
On being mentioned in the same breath as Roethlisberger:
"It is weird. Once again, it is weird. He was in the NFL when I was in sixth or seventh grade. I'm sure I drafted him in fantasy leagues when I wasn't even near playing at this level. It is definitely different, but it comes with your new job. I'm looking forward to going out there and trying to compete at another level that he competes at."
On his pregame routine:
"I'm a little different than most. A lot of people like to put on headphones, and they kind of create a false reality to try to get hyped up and stay locked in. For me, I don't like to listen to music. I like to be out there experiencing and allowing the moment to build so when you step out there for your first play, you have already felt that. You have heard the crowd, you have already smelled the smells and you are ready to go. I think when you put headphones on, you create something that is not real – you see the things, but you don't hear them and you are still in your own head. For me, I like to be out there, hearing everything, feeling everything so when it comes time to go out there and play, I'm ready to go."