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'Resilient' Cody Kessler ready for bounce-back opportunity vs. Falcons

Cody Kessler rode the waves in his NFL debut, and he didn't need a film review session to figure it out.

"It started as a high night and ended low and went back and forth," Kessler said in the immediate aftermath of Cleveland's 17-11 loss Friday at Green Bay. "I kind of got my feet wet a little bit but those are mistakes that are on me. I've got to fix both of those and get better at it. It's exciting to get your first touchdown but you've got to eliminate those mistakes."

The process to eliminate those mistakes and use the debut as a learning experience has been ongoing since the team returned to the field Sunday. Thursday, when the Browns host the Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium, will give Kessler the opportunity to move forward and notch a less volatile performance after three productive practices.

"Cody's resilient. He's going to battle and work," Browns coach Hue Jackson said after Tuesday's rain-soaked practice. "Again, like I said, he would probably be the first to tell you he wanted to do some other things the other night. He was fortunate to throw a touchdown his first NFL game, but he also had some things happen that he wishes didn't."

Kessler couldn't have asked for a better place to receive his first NFL snap, and he made the absolute most of it.

Starting from the 10-yard line after a long Raheem Mostert punt return that was extended by a penalty, Kessler took a shotgun snap, dropped back a couple of paces and fired a back-shoulder throw to rookie Rashard Higgins in the front corner of the end zone. One throw, one touchdown for the third-round pick out of USC.

"It was funny breaking the huddle, I told Rashard if they're pressing, I'm going to throw a back shoulder and it worked out. He went out and made a great play," Kessler said. "I just tried to put it in his area and then he went out and got it."

The next play gave two points back to the Packers in a way Kessler hopes to never repeat.

With the ball at Cleveland's 1-yard line, Kessler rolled to the right and out of the back of the end zone. He cited confusion between the end line and another line behind it as the reason why he rolled out of the area without any contact. During the regular season, the space between the lines would typically be colored in with white paint.

"That's on me. I've got to see that," Kessler said. "That's not an excuse. I've got to have more awareness on that. Know where I'm on the field and I've got to see that."

Kessler was dropped for another safety later in the fourth quarter. He finished 2-of-2 for 15 yards, the touchdown and two safeties.

With Austin Davis likely out Thursday because a concussion, Kessler could have plenty more opportunities for redemption. Jackson's excited to see how the rookie responds.

"He'll learn from it," Jackson said, "and grow from it."

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