CLEVELAND — On a rainy and blustery afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium — the kind you'd be more likely to find in November than mid-May — coach Hue Jackson said he likes what he sees out Cody Kessler two days into rookie minicamp.
And Kessler, the rookie quarterback and former USC Trojan, appeared neither fazed nor bothered by the elements Saturday.
"Cody has all the characteristics that we think he can handle any elements, any situation," Jackson said, adding there weren't any issues with his arm strength or adjusting to the cold and soggy weather.
Kessler, who is part of a quarterbacks room that includes Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, and Connor Shaw, has looked crisp so far through minicamp.
But Jackson has made it clear Kessler — as well as the rest of the team's newcomers — have much work ahead of them to catch up to the veterans.
"I think with quarterbacks — especially young quarterbacks — it's just being able to work quicker," Jackson said Friday following the first practice of minicamp.
"In the National Football League, things open and close very quickly. I think he will work on those things, more footwork related. It's not anything else, and I've seen him clean it up in individual, our individual period on to the next period. That told me that he knows how to take information and use it to his advantage. He was able to do that, but you have to do it consistently."
Jackson echoed a similar sentiment Saturday, saying Kessler needs to "keep growing and keep getting better" before pointing to an errant pass that was picked off by first-year linebacker Scooby Wright.
"You see he threw one to the other team today. Can't do that. Sometimes you've just got to say 'uncle' and throw the ball away," Jackson said. "He'll learn that as he goes, too. He had another good day."
Jackson, who said he's been pleased with the Browns' rookies, added the Browns — from newcomers to veterans — need to be focused on incremental improvement.
"We're just trying to stack good days on top of each other and get better at the little things," he said, "so that when it comes time to do what we really need to do that we'll be what we need to be."
Against that backdrop, then, it seems to make sense why Jackson said he won't name a starting quarterback — be it Kessler, Griffin or someone else — any time soon.
"We're going to give all our quarterbacks an opportunity. The bottom line is somebody is going to win this job. We all know that and understand it, but it's way too early to talk about one guy. I know everybody wants us to anoint a guy. That's not going to happen right this second," Jackson said when asked why the team hadn't named a starter yet.
"I don't think I've had enough time and they haven't had enough time in this system that we run to feel very comfortable yet. Let's go through OTAs. Let's get into training camp and let's see where we are when the real bullets start flying, when guys are going after you trying to take you down. That's when we'll have a better idea about our football team in general."
After all, Jackson said that's the point of minicamp as Cleveland's depth chart slowly begins to take shape, the competition at quarterback included.
"This is great. I love the opportunity to get these men acclimated to what we do, how we do it. At the same time, I think we all respect this is not football," Jackson said of playing in helmets and shorts.
"Football is when you put those pads on and you put the helmet on and all of a sudden you've got to go play against another team, another opponent who's honestly trying to stop you from getting them."
And when the time's right, Kessler will have his shot.
"I think it's too soon to say that he can't (start at quarterback). I think it's too soon to say that he will," Jackson said.
"At the same time, he is still a young player. You have to earn the right to be in that group. We drafted him. We know he has some ability. I think you guys have all seen it. The guy can throw the football very accurately to people and throw in tight spaces. He did that extremely well today. He has to be able to, again, handle all the different things that come with playing quarterback in the National Football League.
"I think it's way too early to tell all of that right now. Is he talented? Yes. I think we all saw that today."