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Cody Kessler to take 1st snaps of camp, but QB competition remains wide open

The Browns will enter training camp with the same setup at quarterback as they had during the spring, and the competition remains just as wide open.

Cody Kessler, who started eight games as a rookie in 2016, will take the first snaps Thursday when training camp opens in Berea. The remaining competitors -- Brock Osweiler, DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan -- will follow but are no means locked into their respective spots.

It's a fluid, four-man battle that Jackson hopes resolves itself by one signal-caller rising to the top.

"I mean, this is a competition," Jackson said Wednesday in a joint press conference with executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown. "Somebody has to walk out there first. We have made a decision, it will be Cody and we will kind of go from there.

"I can't tell you exactly how fast it is going to happen, but I think we all know that old saying – 'The cream kind of rises to the top.' They will start to separate themselves as we go. As that happens, we will make that decision and make sure that guy gets enough reps to be ready to play."

Kessler's experience -- eight games started in Jackson's system compared to the zero from the rest of the group -- and his handle of the offense were the main reasons why there was no shakeup heading into training camp.

The Browns will conduct 11 practices before their first preseason game, a time Jackson identified as the most ideal -- but not definite -- to have a starting quarterback in place. Because of the team's Monday Night Football matchup with the Giants on Aug. 21, Jackson and Co. have 11 days between the first and second preseason games, a long stretch of time to further evaluate the competition if it already isn't decided.

There will be "markers" along the way, Jackson said.

"There will be data that we will look at to make very important decisions as we move forward," Jackson said. "It could change. It could not change. That is all going to play out as we go through training camp.

"I would like to have a quarterback hopefully named by then, but I am not going to force it. What is important is to feel good about the guy that we stick out there. We are not going to be in a rush. Obviously, we want guys that play in games and play together and play as a unit and do all of those things. If it happens before then, great. If it does not, that is OK, too, but by the time that we get ready to play in the regular season, we will have the right guy out there playing."

Veteran players report to Berea.

Osweiler, who was acquired from the Texans in a March trade that also netted the Browns a 2018 second-round pick, took the majority of repetitions with the second-team offense during the spring. The sixth-year veteran is the only member of the competition who has NFL victories under his belt, notching a 13-8 record over his past two seasons with the Broncos and Texans.

"We knew he was a guy who was going to come in and bring some experience to that room," Brown said. "He is not the most experienced – he is still young – but he certainly has more experience than DeShone, Kevin and Cody in that room, and that is valuable to us. Also, Brock is a competitive guy. He has done a nice job since he got here, and he has really dug into the playbook and really endeared himself to his teammates."

Kizer, whom the Browns selected in this past year's second round, received plenty of work with the first-team offense throughout the spring and could very well get the same opportunities this week. The former Notre Dame star went through the typical rookie ups and downs during OTAs and minicamp but also flashed the kind of potential that made him one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the draft.

The Browns have stressed from Day 1 they won't force Kizer into action but won't inhibit him from legitimately competing for the starting job, either.

"There is knowledge that gives you a little direction. There is experience," Jackson said. "I have been fortunate to in this division bring a couple of guys along who were rookies and know how they play and know how your team functions around them.

"We will use anything and everything that we have to make the best decision when that time comes."

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