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DeShone Kizer's rookie season comes full circle in Pittsburgh

BEREA -- DeShone Kizer's rollercoaster of a rookie year will come full circle this weekend in Pittsburgh.

With one final opportunity to lift Cleveland to its first win, Kizer wants to deliver a strong performance against the Steelers after an impressive showing against the team's arch rival in the season opener.

"I was on cloud nine, kind of riding the wave of being named the starting quarterback in my first game ever in the league," he said Wednesday. "Now, there have been so many ups and downs that that time is so far behind us."

In what's been a season of highs and lows, Kizer's kryptonite has been turnovers. In 14 starts, he's thrown nine touchdown passes against 19 interceptions. In Sunday's loss to the Bears, he tossed two more picks as the Browns fell to 0-15 for the first time in franchise history. Now, as Cleveland prepares for its season finale, Kizer hopes to cut down on those miscues against a tough Steelers defense.

"We just have to take what the defense is giving us and string together positive plays," he said. "Not take the risks that I have been taking the last few weeks, making sure that I'm taking care of the ball and keeping it out of harm's way, and lastly, taking the big plays when they are there."

To be certain, the former Notre Dame star and second-round NFL Draft pick has demonstrated promise this season. It was on full display against the Steelers in Week 1 when Kizer completed 20 of 30 passes for 222 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for another score that tied the game and sent FirstEnergy Stadium into a frenzy.

As a challenging season comes to an end, the young Kizer spoke of growth since the opener. "I've learned quite a bit since then," Kizer said. "Hopefully I can apply some of the tools that we have now to that performance and hopefully edge one out over a really good team."

Kizer hopes it's enough to leave Heinz Field with a victory.

"I want as many opportunities as I can to go win. Unfortunately, obviously we're down to our last week here," he said. "I have to do whatever I can this week in preparation to reward this team who has been working their butt off since the beginning of training camp."

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