As the Browns prepare for Week 18 and look ahead to the playoffs, HC Kevin Stefanski said that they are planning to rest several players for their final game of the regular season.
And with that rest of certain players also comes a change at quarterback. Stefanski announced on Wednesday that Jeff Driskel will start at quarterback, and P.J. Walker will serve as the backup for Week 18 against the Bengals. With the change at quarterback, veteran QB Joe Flacco will rest for Sunday's game.
"Jeff's a guy with the system knowledge from Arizona, is helpful to get out there," Stefanski said. "P.J. Walker will be the backup. He's been great for us. He started in games and won for us. But just felt like this was the right thing to do for the team in this particular instance to give Jeff an opportunity to show us what he's capable of as well."
With Driskel starting Week 18, it will be the fifth quarterback that the Browns have started in a game this season. The Browns signed Driskel to the active roster on Dec. 30, following their win over the Jets that clinched their playoff berth. He spent time previously this season with the Cardinals on their practice squad.
Driskel is in his eighth season out of Louisiana Tech. He was drafted in the sixth round by the 49ers during the 2016 NFL Draft and has appeared in 23 games with 11 starts with the Bengals (2018), Lions (2019), Broncos (2020) and Texans (2021-22). Driskel made two starts with Houston in 2022, and then signed a deal with the Cardinals in April 2023. He has spent most of the 2023 season on the Cardinals' practice squad after he was released in late August from the active roster and re-signed to Arizona's practice squad.
Driskel has completed 216 of 365 career passes for 2, 228 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also has 384 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Stefanski did not get into other specifics of who would rest during Week 18; however, Stefanski said that this week presents an opportunity for some of their backups or younger players who have not had ample amounts of playing time to get in-game reps against a divisional opponent in the Bengals. It also allows the coaching staff to see their depth players to see them compete.
Even with the intent to rest certain players, there are roster limitations that the Browns have to work through. Stefanski reiterated that some players will still dress for Week 18 and should be ready to take the field, if necessary, while others will be inactive for the game.
"We're going to use this opportunity to rest some guys," Stefanski said. "I feel like we've earned that opportunity with how we took care of business the previous week. As you guys know, with the roster limitations, you cannot rest everybody. So, our full intent is to go down there, play well and get a win. That's our motivation."