The pain has eased in Cody Kessler's chest and ribs. It's still there and probably won't completely disappear anytime soon, but the rookie quarterback views it as manageable as he prepares for his fourth start of the season at Tennessee.
Kessler's prognosis remains day to day, with Wednesday's practice serving as an important benchmark in his recovery. Asked if he'll be ready to start by Sunday, Kessler said "that's the plan."
It'd mark Kessler's first-ever start against Marcus Mariota, the second-year quarterback out of Oregon. USC, where Kessler starred, never faced Oregon while both Kessler and Mariota were the starting quarterbacks.
"That's my goal is obviously, be ready to go on Sunday," Kessler said from the locker room before practice. "I have to get through practice first and go day-to-day and just see how it feels getting the full reps, throw the pads on and see how it feels."
Kessler described the injury as "uncomfortable" more than anything else. Behind the scenes in Cleveland's training room, he's been going through a variety of movements to keep his throwing shoulder loose and going through a "ton of ice."
Kessler wanted to get back on the field Sunday against the Patriots but was cautioned against it because the season hasn't even reached its midpoint yet.
"They were saying, 'You have to think longevity,'" Kessler said. "You don't want to go in and make it worse and be out longer and continue to get hit there or something happen in a game where it gets worse. I had to accept that. Unfortunately I did not get to go back in, but that one hurt me really bad not being able to go back in there."
The Browns have two other quarterbacks on the active roster, as Josh McCown returned to practice Wednesday for the first time in three weeks. Recovering from a broken clavicle, McCown said he's preparing as if he'll play Sunday, but his prognosis is similarly day to day. Rookie Kevin Hogan, a fifth-round pick out of Stanford, was elevated from the practice squad Tuesday after veteran Charlie Whitehurst, who injured his knee Sunday against the Patriots, was released.
Kessler is coming off an abbreviated appearance against New England that included a productive scoring drive that ended with his second NFL touchdown pass, an 11-yarder to Andrew Hawkins to cap the nine-play, 75-yard possession. It made leaving the field even tougher, if that's even possible.
"Where we were at that point in the game and having that long drive establishing the pass game and being able to move the ball was something that was a positive," Kessler said. "Obviously, I would have loved to stay in the game and continue to build off of that, but unfortunately, I had to come out."
His goal of getting back on the field is simple, but measured.
"That is what my mindset is, but it is hard to say with the game being a couple days away," Kessler said. "That is my main goal is to do as much rehab and treatment as necessary and get back as fast as I can."