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DeShone Kizer takes hard lesson learned from 1st start to heart vs. Jacksonville

DeShone Kizer doesn't forget what happened to him in the first start of his NFL career.

It happened seven times, to be exact.

Since he took seven sacks in Cleveland's season opener against the Steelers, Kizer has been much, much better at getting the ball out in a quick enough fashion to avoid the back-breaking plays defenses covet every time a quarterback drops back to pass. He's been sacked just nine times in his past seven starts, the byproduct of the continuous improvement he seeks throughout his rookie season.

That mettle will be tested Sunday against the Jaguars, or as they've come to be known on Twitter and other social media platforms, "Sacksonville."

"I quickly learned that in order to be team-protecting, you have to be able to check the ball down and understand where your outlets are," Kizer said Wednesday. "It has nothing to do with game planning for the offensive line. It has everything to do with me just making sure that the ball is out of harm's way."

Jacksonville, in what's been a breakout, 6-3 season spearheaded by one of the NFL's best defenses, has consistently thrown opposing offenses off their game plan. Sack after sack after sack will do just that.

The Jaguars' 35 sacks are hands down the best of any team in the league. The next-best teams have 29. Twice this season, the Jaguars have wrecked a game by compiling 10 sacks.

Veteran defensive tackle Calais Campbell, a free agent acquisition, is second in the NFL with 11 sacks. Yannick Ngakoue (6.5) and Dante Fowler Jr. (5) bring pressure off the edge.

"They are talented," Kizer said. "They have two corners who have proven themselves out there, which allows them to do a bunch of things within the tackles and has led them to become the sack leader in the league right now. It is on us to make sure that we are executing our job.

"Every play is designed to make sure that every guy is blocked and accounted for. It is on us to make sure that we are doing our job to account for everyone out there."

The Browns could be accounting for those defenders with two backup tackles.

With Joe Thomas already ruled out for the season, Spencer Drango is set to make his third start at left tackle. And with Shon Coleman currently in the concussion protocol, rookie Zach Banner could be in line for his first NFL start. Banner made his NFL debut in the second half of last week's loss to the Lions.

Kizer doesn't see the offensive line shakeup as any reason to divert from the progress he's made staying upright.

"It is professional football," Kizer said. "You have to expect that every defense you play against is going to be stout. Once again, it is on us to make sure that we are executing our duties and are learning from the guys who have not had a lot of success in the past against them."

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