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Hue Jackson: DeShone Kizer's debut will be 'electric for him'

Browns coach Hue Jackson's message to rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer is simple.

"Complete the (darn) ball," he said with a laugh. "That's my conversation with DeShone."

In all seriousness, Jackson said Wednesday, Kizer, who is set to make his NFL debut, has "handled my barrage toward him" as Cleveland prepares for Sunday's season opener.

"He understands what he needs to do," Jackson said. "He has had a good week of practice and is working hard. He has prepared well. This isn't the game. The game is Sunday. That's what he has to get himself ready for."

Kizer, whom the team named its starter last month, is set to become the first Browns rookie quarterback to start a season since 2012. In the process, the former Notre Dame star and second-round NFL Draft pick will face off against a Pittsburgh defense that finished 12th in total defense last season.

"I definitely have a lot of respect for this game. This rivalry within our division and our conference is one that really shows you what Northern, Midwest football is," said Kizer, a Toledo native who looked up to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as a youngster.

"It's hard nose. It's tough. The fan bases are the same way. The cities are the same way. We all kind of grew up the same way in the sense that it's blue collar. It's as blue collar as it gets so now to be a part of this and to obviously represent Cleveland and this rivalry, I am looking forward to going out there and representing the city and everything that comes along with this."

Kizer, who impressed the Browns with his arm talent, poise in the pocket and work ethic in earning the starting job, also spoke of a routine he's established since coming to Cleveland, including leaning on Jackson through both highs and lows.

"The success that I have had in the preseason was because of the things that he has taught me – the way that you go about film study, the way that you go about how you practice and walkthroughs and things like that," he said.

"He's challenging me to take that to another level to make sure that this truly becomes who I am week to week rather than having one week of great preparation and then slacking off another. He's been challenging me to continue to stay in the playbook, stay in the game plan and continue to watch as much film as I possibly can."

Jackson also stressed Kizer, 21, will have to handle both the Steelers and fanfare that surrounds both playing a divisional rival and what could be the first of many NFL starts.

"It will be a tremendous environment. I know our fans are excited about coming to see our team play and our opponent that we are playing," he said.

"It's going to be fun. It's going to be electric for him. He's going to have to take it all in, but play within our system, play within himself and go have a good game."

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