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Need to Know: Cody Kessler helping mentor DeShone Kizer as Browns prepare for Baltimore

As rookie DeShone Kizer prepares for his first true NFL road game, he's had extra help from one of his fellow quarterbacks.

Hue Jackson said Cody Kessler, who started eight games as a rookie in 2016, has emerged as something of a "mentor" for the 21-year-old Kizer.

"When I'm up here late at night, the guy who's with DeShone still is Cody," Jackson said. "He's been great in practice. He's always egging DeShone on to get the offense going, to get the rhythm going and to get the fire going. He's done a great job."

Kessler, who earned the first crack at the team's starting quarterback job, was inactive for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. Jackson said the second-year player from USC has taken everything in stride.

"He's been a pro about it. I think Cody knows his day is coming at some point. He's not concerned about that. In respect to the decision we made, he understands," he said. "I think that's what being a good pro in the National Football League is. Now, me saying that, does he want to play? Oh, yes. Is he competitive? Does he want to be out there? No question he does, but I think he gets the role that he's in right now."

Kizer was named the Browns starter after beating out Kessler, Kevin Hogan and now-Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler last month. He passed for 222 yards and combined for two touchdowns in his debut against the Steelers.

Here's what else you need to know from Thursday:

— Kevin Zeitler, who had a thumb procedure earlier this week, will play Sunday against the Ravens. "Ready to roll," Jackson said. The veteran right guard returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's.  

— Under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Browns defense allowed just one touchdown in four preseason games and held the high-powered Steelers offense to 290 total yards. "That's why we brought him here. Gregg is very good at what he does," Jackson said of the veteran coach. "He knows how to get the best out of his players. He knows how to motivate, and guys follow guys who normally do that extremely well. He has done a good job of that."

— For example, the Browns shut down All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell last weekend, holding him to 31 yards on 10 carries. "We played in our gaps. We played our responsibilities," Jackson said. "We beat them to the punch every now and then, and we tackled well. Those are the keys of playing good defensive football."

— Jackson spent two seasons (2008-2009) helping mold the Ravens quarterbacks under John Harbaugh, an experience that had a profound effect on the trajectory of his coaching career. "I just was fortunate enough that someone gave me a chance to coach quarterbacks at a young time in my career and call plays," he said. "That elevated me, and then you start to understand in this league, in order to have a good offense, you have to have a good quarterback.

"Then I started to go down that path. John Harbaugh is the guy – I say it all the time – who really jump-started my career and really pushed me over the top by allowing me to coach his quarterback for those two years. From there, my career took off."

Jackson will be reunited with Harbaugh and former pupil Joe Flacco this weekend in Baltimore.

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